The NASA PR Conundrum September 1, 2007Posted by shubber in Manned Space, NASA, Wasting Money.
A recent commenter (thanks Eric!) on our post regarding the Star Wars toy being flown to ISS in a lame NASA stunt suggested that NASA’s problem is with PR, and that they should engage in a national PR campaign to sell Americans on the NASA mission in order to build support.
NASA really needs to spend a sizable chunk of our tax dollars and hire a good, no…GREAT PR company.
No, they don’t. That’s not their job.
Lame references to fantasy Sci-Fi such as Star Trek and Star Wars don’t appeal to most Americans.
Sci-fi is more mainstream than it was in the past, however a real issue is that NASA shouldn’t try to compare themselves or link themselves to that silliness. They simply can’t make real space nearly as exciting or “cool” as the folks at Industrial Light & Magic.
To quote the Red Hot Chili Peppers:
“Space may be the Final Frontier,
but it’s made in a Hollywood basement.”
Present (and that’s what NASA needs to do) the Space Program in a way that makes it understandable and interesting to the average person
ok, we’re agreeing a bit more now…. but judging from Miss South Carolina, the average person has a hard time as it is…
The first thing I’d do? I’d have commercials shown around the country explaining why we’re going back to the moon.
That’s a tough one, since they deep down know they don’t have a legitimate reason FOR going to the Moon. In fact, the more this particularly stupid program is exposed to the light of day, the more likely it is to be canceled, and that terrifies some people (as it rightly should).
The military hires decent enough folks to make those neat commercials, why can’t NASA?
1) Military budget MUCH MUCH larger than NASA’s.
2) Military is actually attempting to recruit people, and can promise them the ability to shoot guns, drive tanks, or even fly a fighter jet. And money for college. What can NASA promise? A chance to make powerpoint slides for yet another project in Code (fill in the blank)? Hardly awe-inspiring. And you don’t need 10 years of engineering school to be in the infantry.
3) Our entire culture is built around guns and shooting. look at the success of video games – what are they primarily about (ignore Donkey Kong and Mario Bros for the moment)? Shooting and blowing things up. How many space-based games (that aren’t actually about shooting things up, such as Doom3) are there…? Even John Carmack, who is a space tragic like many of us, made his money with a software company selling games that are about ultra-violence (Doom, Quake).
4) The MIC (military industrial complex) knows where their real paychecks come from – DoD, not NASA. So when they do advertising and PR (TV and print) what do you think they tend to promote? Cool military stuff. Which is FREE advertising for the DoD, since their contractors are paying for it. (of course, they get the money for those ads FROM DoD contracts, but that’s another issue…).