Moon-bound media relations

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Image courtesy of Robert Daly

As a student of PR, I keep track of the general happenings of the industry. I try to critically look at campaigns, successes and failures and the historical context of public relations, to learn from what other people/organizations have done.

With that said, for some reason I have never considered the public relations that goes into the NASA program. Minor oversight… My bad.

That was until I read the article, “How PR landed humans on the moon.” Needless to say, my mind was blown.

The article looked at the PR and communications involved in the Apollo program. Apparently NASA’s PR team was relatively small considering the scope of the organization and the event of landing on the moon. But that’s where it gets interesting, much of the PR was contracted or outsourced to the companies that worked with NASA, such as Boeing. Considering these other companies wanted word to get out of their involvement with the Apollo program, their interests aligned. This is a story of communications partnership.

This partnership worked out to the enormous benefit of NASA. They could focus on the technical, scientific components of sending a rocket to the moon for the first time ever, not get bogged down by publicizing the event.

The article goes on to explain the enormous collaborative effort that went in to creating press kits for each of the partnering companies. They had to make their press kits stand out from all the background noise. I mean, anyone and everyone was putting out materials about the lunar landing. It was a historic event of epic proportions. If, say, Boeing wanted to get proper recognition of their involvement in the program, they had to send out press kits that were better than all the rest, give information that couldn’t be found elsewhere, or suggest interesting one of a kind stories.

But at the same time every other partner or stakeholder was trying to do the same thing. The competition was fierce. Reminds me of the dog-eat-dog atmosphere of the African savannah. But really, thats what media relations is. As PR practitioners it is our job to make our clients story stand out from all the noise. There is and will always be competition for media space.

Sometimes it takes a little innovation, some creativity on our part to get noticed.

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