NASA Is Rapidly Losing The Ability to Communicate Its Value - to The Next Generation

Editor's note: Just after Christmas, an AP article describing NASA's lack of success in reaching a broader, younger generation went online. The article soon found its way into hundreds of newspapers and websites around the world. Around that same time I stumbled across a silly item on a NASA web page touting story ideas - including a suggestion that reporters might want to interview ESMD Deputy AA Doug Cooke about his sailing hobby.


Yesterday, I was reminded of a new PBS series that aired Wednesday evening - one aimed at the younger, techno-savvy sector of our society - the one NASA has problems connecting with. Among the stories was a nicely done piece on NASA's NEEMO project. True to form, NASA PAO did absolutely nothing to promote this upcoming segment - even though a PBS press release specifically mentioned the air date in its title back on 18 December. Of course, neither SOMO or ESMD make any mention of this on their websites.

I suppose one could blame this on the impending holidays - except that this is a common occurrence at NASA these days. NASA constantly complains that people do not know what value it provides - yet they continually stumble over obvious chances to promote things the agency does that can effectively convey that message. And when they are not passing up opportunities, they are wasting them by suggesting to reporters that stories about employee's unrelated off hours hobbies might be more interesting than what NASA does during the day.

And then there is this blog I stumbled across yesterday evening. The enthusiasm this young woman exudes for her new job at NASA is utterly infectious. She describes things at KSC better than many reporters - and certainly better than PAO. Her career aim is unabashed and direct: she intends to become an astronaut - and she is going to tell all of us how she is going to make that happen - in real time. This is the sort of activity - and the sort of people - NASA needs to put forward as its public face.

So long as NASA PAO - and the associated organizations responsible for outreach and public relations - continue to screw up things that colleges teach in Public Relations 101, the more the agency is going to continue to slide down a slippery slope toward increasing irrelevancy. And in so doing, it has no one to blame but itself.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on January 4, 2007 12:05 AM.

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