Blog post
June 25, 2019

Power play: The Elon Musk Tweet That Flicked The Switch

How did radio, Twitter and two heavy hitters in the world of technology and innovation create a unique and ‘perfect environment’ for a story, to become more than just a news story in 2017?

What I’m talking about here is how traditional media ignited a social media conversation between Elon Musk and Mike Cannon-Brookes, and as a result brought the world’s largest lithium ion battery to South Australia.

What I find to be really interesting and what our media analysis shows, is that a conversation between two business people – that would normally be had in private and reported on ‘after the fact’ – played out for a public audience to witness in what could really be described as real time. This in turn created a compelling news event that was amplified by traditional media.

Once we saw political commentary, from Malcolm Turnbull, this traditional media exposure really began to peak. So what we see here is a significant interplay between traditional and social media until it really became a mushroom cloud of activity. The rest, as they say, is history.

What we were able to do in our media analysis is interpret and analyse the data from all of those mediums, radio, television, online/internet and social media, and determine some distinctive insight into the story. What we have here at Isentia is a single platform to access all of those data points/coverage.

Key outtakes/lessons learned

  • While a ‘media storm’ of this nature is hard to recreate, the combination of having an authentic and unique interaction between key people of influence (and an element of celebrity) on the right medium (in this case, social media and specifically Twitter) can drive interest across a broad audience that communications professionals might not have initially considered in their strategies.
  • Favourability was also outlined in the report with the results showing that the event was largely positive. Broadcast showed a more balanced favourability as the content tends to represent opinions from both sides of the story more evenly.
  • For communications professionals and PR professionals alike, what this research piece shows is that communications should be platform agnostic. It’s really about looking at the conversation, how it peaks over a period across all outlets and having a holistic approach to communications. 
  • Embrace the ability that social media has to start, grow and lengthen the relevancy of a conversation, which is a clear advantage of digital versus traditional mediums.
  • This may have started as an organic media story, but if you’re equipped with this level of analysis on a weekly basis, we would have been able to demonstrate how to lengthen a conversation in the media. In this instance, we saw traditional media really drive the social media interaction with the peak in traditional activity helped spark social as well, showing a significant interplay between the two.
  • You can’t manage what you can’t measure. So if you have the right insights into your communications objectives, you then have the data to tweak your strategy and implement with success.

On a side note, what excites me personally is how a problem solver was able to really take the challenge on and circumvent the traditional process of politics and negotiation, or at the very least shorten it. A true example of disruption!

What did you learn from Tesla’s ‘history in the making’ power play in 2017?

Asha Oberoi
Head of Insights, Australia


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