Strategic communication is traditionally known as public relations, though the term ambiguously assume that the outfacing consumers is your public. Truthfully, public relations looks at many sectors, whether an internal or external audience you are seeking to communicate with.
Usually I live in the realm of strategic science communications, and my experiences below highlights projects and events from my internships at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.
"Who doesn’t like an out-of-this-world parade? ... In honor of the Apollo 50th anniversary, this year’s [Intern Photo Challenge] prompt was to recreate the setting, reactions and emotions of when the world saw the first lunar landing.
Langley interns banded together to create an iconic 60s-themed photo. What brought about the unique idea of an ‘Astronaut Returning Home’ parade was the desire to give all of the interns the opportunity to participate in the photo challenge. History intern Jack Ronayne and communications intern Andrea Lloyd worked together to coordinate the mock parade in a matter of days."
The NASA Langley Spring 2019 interns voted they wanted an image for the contest where everyone could participate. Someone through out the idea of a parade as a small joke, but it soon became Plan A. Jack Ronayne and I took lead, only having two days to plan this mock, photo-op parade.
Working in NASA Langley's OSCAB had its advantages. We worked down the hall from security, so it was easy to communicate. I'd written several center-wide e-mails during my internship at that point. The famous Spacey Casey (aka Outreach Specialist Dustin Hitt) had a special mock-up astronaut suit in Langley's inventory. All we needed was the clearance to close the street for five minutes and a convertible. With the best luck in this solar system, and several e-mails, we had both. The public affairs photographer was even able to snap our photo for us!
That's only half the battle though. As a competition, that meant we were competing with other center's images. I carefully tracked how many votes each photo got every day, and coordinated three center-wide e-mails and personal social media posts to amplify the need to vote. Sometimes this included shamelessly tagging friends and family to like the post. In the end, we won. Which is incredible for a smaller, arguably less popular, NASA center.
My take away from all of this? Truly, there are no limits at NASA. If an entire center is willing to support a group of interns for a silly photo challenge with little notice, NASA can take us back to the Moon.
Each session, #NASAinterns across the agency compete in a friendly competition. This session, to honor the Apollo 50th Anniversary, interns got creative with their renditions on how the public reacted that moment in time!
The winner for our Spring 2019 Intern Challenge is...
(LaRC)! With over 1,000 likes, their submission is a rendition of the public celebrating right after the Moon landing in 1969. Congratulations to our NASA LaRC interns!
Summer 2020 marked the launch of Perseverance. I wrote a Media Advisory to highlight NASA Langley's role in the Mars 2020 mission.
This launch was very memorable. In a previous internship, I had witnessed the Orion Launch Abort System test, but to watch a rocket blast off to Mars was a whole new level of exciting.
"The next step in Martian exploration starts this summer when the Perseverance rover launches July 30, 2020. The Mars 2020 mission seeks to answer key astrobiology questions about the potential for life on Mars and signs of habitable conditions from Mars' ancient past. Researchers at NASA's Langley Research Center made significant contributions to the mission.
Creating a Solution for a Media & Community Packet
The main focus of my NASA Langley Internship was supporting Langley through the Apollo 50th anniversary. One task was to organize hundreds of images, videos, and other resources for regional community and media partners.
This excel sheet held assets including 29 fact sheets, 281 photos, 93 videos, 38 gifs, 16 documents, and 21 exhibits. It was presented as a resources to additional groups such as the Apollo Anniversary Team, OSCAB Directorate, and Langley OD.
At the Community Meeting, 20 individuals from regional media and partner organizations applauded after my short presentation explaining the resources in the fact sheet and how to use it, saying that the document would save them months of independent research.