On August 7 of 2018, Elon Musk posted a tweet on his profile stating the following: “Am considering taking Tesla private $420. Funding secured”. SEC and the key stakeholders of Tesla considered the tweet to be obscure and confusing; Elon Musk did not provide any information regarding the funding of the endeavour. SEC announced fraud allegations against Mr. Musk, subjecting him to the fine and removal of the CEO title for three years. The tweet caused the “funding secured” crisis that provoked substantial stock fluctuations endangering the position of Tesla shareholders. The crisis is still ongoing, as Tesla is currently being sued by JPMorgan, suggesting that Elon Musk could have underestimated the crisis. Thus, the study was designed as a quantitative content analysis to answer the following research questions: “to what extent does Elon Musk’s communication demonstrate a more frequent use of primary strategies rather than secondary strategies for the reputation management during the “funding secured” crisis of 2018?”; “to what extent does Elon Musk use counter-framing in the Twitter communication in response to the audience’s tweets about the “funding secured” crisis of 2018?” and “to what extent does the audience react positively to the communication of Elon Musk on Twitter?”. The study investigated the use of crisis response strategies of Elon Musk and evaluated the reaction of Elon Musk’s audience composed of Tesla stakeholders to his communication on Twitter during five months of the crisis. In total, 342 tweets of Mr. Musk and 352 tweets containing the stakeholders’ reactions were collected into two datasets. The tweets were coded by two coders following the two codebooks containing definitions of the variables and coding instructions. The statistical software SPSS was used to analyse the variables, potential relationships, and differences between them. The findings suggested that Elon Musk used bolstering strategies over primary responses. The results revealed that the audience reacted negatively to the communication of Elon Musk on Twitter. Moreover, the results showed that Elon Musk relied on framing the tweets positively in response to the negative frames of the stakeholders. One of the limitations was related to the scope of the study. The study recommended conducting a mixed-methods study to analyse Tesla press releases.

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dr. Sergül Nguyen
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Anna Kazakova. (2022, June 27). The “funding secured” tweet crisis: An evaluative study on the crisis response of Elon Musk and the reaction of audience. Media & Business. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/64996