The moon landing & the PR gurus – SCN Encourager 3/26/2014

It required a unique combination of science and a national commitment to get Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 8.23.35 PMAnd thanks to David Meerman Scott, author of the classic business book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, the behind-the-scenes involvement of PR folks (like us!) supporting the historic Apollo Mission are now coming to light.

It’s about time, don’tcha think?

I mean it!

I appreciate the bravery of our astronauts and the ingenuity of our engineers… but dang, I just knew in my heart of hearts that it was some energetic PR hack who reminded NASA bigwigs to pack a TV camera on the space ship and wordsmith a snappy tagline ahead of time.

It’s fantastic to see PR savvy finally receive praise for its role in this critical era.

But the kudos may not have happened.

What are the odds that marketer David Meerman Scott would also be a passionate “outer space” buff?

No wonder it took someone with his background to co-author a book on the strategic marketing of the Apollo Lunar Program.

In Scott’s opinion, the national publicity effort of our space program in the 1960s was one of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 7.59.18 PMThis article from The Boston Globe will bring to mind a number of situations that similarly vex today’s school communicators.

For example, I chuckled when I read that the Apollo astronauts frequently complained about the non-scientific PR staffers who were in the way badgering them for “their stories.”

It’s nice to know that being a pest really is a part of our professional DNA and not a characteristic of an annoying personality disorder. (hopefully)

And it probably doesn’t hurt any of us to be humbled, either, by tangible evidence that collaboration teams and business partnerships were very much alive and well long before our present focus on 21st century learning skills.

So here’s the link to Marketing the Moon if you’re interested.

While I’d like to think I would’ve been a valuable addition to the 1969 Apollo Lunar Program communications team if I had been an adult back then, I’m not so sure.

As a school communicator, I’ve heard this too many times, “Hey, Tom. Sorry I didn’t contact you. I just forgot. What we did in class yesterday was amazing. I’ll call you next time, I promise.”

With my luck, I would’ve jinxed our tribe’s claim to its piece of PR history.

I can imagine Neil Armstrong on the day after his moon walk telling me, “Hey, Tom. Sorry. I forgot all about you. But I did get a soundbite from the PR person in a neighboring district. You should’ve heard me crush that brilliant ‘one small step… one giant leap’ line! I’ll call you next time, I promise.” 

Some things never change.

Tom Page, SCN
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