One of the upshots of Monday’s post is that NASA has kind of poor PR. A slew of factors contribute to this problem:
- Half of the news published about NASA focuses on congressional squabbling over funding and constant direction changes that make it look like it’s NASA’s fault.
- NASA has a ‘boy who cried wolf’ problem: Exciting but vague announcements often drum up tons of anticipation for press conferences about breaking discoveries that then turns out to be quite a letdown. One salient example is the highly anticipated press conference regarding “a discovery related to life on other planets” that was actually about earth bacteria that incorporated arsenic into their DNA – and even that was later disproven.
- Unfortunately, the PR staffers aren’t the ones who are super excited and knowledgeable about all of the awesome projects – that would be the people too busy actually working on the projects.
While NASA certainly has outreach departments, it would look bad for a government agency to be hiring top advertising talent to work there. It’s also illegal for NASA to explicitly advertise. And really, a government agency shouldn’t be spending taxpayer money on advertising. Yet, something needs to be done to change public opinion to encompass all of the awesome of space exploration.