NASA’s Social PR Secrets Revealed by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek


SocialPRSecret Marketing the Moon Press KitMarketing the Moon: it’s a time-capsule of NASA’s PR and marketing history, it’s a visually-addicting coffee table book, it’s a fascinating brand journalism case study.

Marketing the Moon is best-selling author David Meerman Scott’s latest public relations odyssey co-authored with Richard Jurek. The book, only available in its coffee-table print format,  tells the greatest story never told (until now); how NASA pioneered the use of public relations, brand journalism, celebrity astronauts, product placement, brand sponsorships and real-time reporting waaaaay before social media and the Internet were even in our orbit.

Scott and Jurek describe the visionary efforts by NASA and its many contractors to market the authentic and transparent facts about space travel — through press releases, bylined articles, lavishly detailed background materials, and fully produced radio and television features — rather than push an agenda that manipulated history and edited the space travel experience for the public.

Marketing the Moon, Public Relations and Search

I received a review copy of Marketing the Moon a few weeks ago and it was fascinating to imagine exploring the unknown territory of both space and real-time public relations. The behind-the-scenes insights from astronauts, NASA officials, media and organizations on how NASA really pushed the envelope on publicly sharing the most authentic and transparent side of space exploration and landmark moon landings.

Curated space memorabilia and PR history lessons

1960sLiveTweetingPress kits, postcards, magazine covers and memos were the page posts and direct messages of the 1960s and 1970s communication flow. When NASA put the first man on the moon, the astronauts used their own version of social media. Live television broadcasts, real-time reporting from the cockpit and cameras around their necks as they took their first steps on the moon.

If public relations and brand journalism put a man on the moon, what can it do for you?

That’s the question where Scott pushes the history envelope, by illustrating how NASA did not have a massive PR machine that worked to shape the global press image of the astronauts and the program. Staffed largely by professional journalists, the NASA Public Affairs Office operated more like a newsroom to rapidly disseminate information to the world press. More than 3,000 reporters covered the Apollo 11 mission from the Cape and Houston, while many thousands around the world worked from home.

David Meerman Scott Book

David Meerman Scott Talks

What made you pick this subject as your latest book Marketing the Moon?


The Apollo space program is the largest and the most important, marketing and public relations case study in history. It’s a story that needed to be told, but to date had not – and certainly not from the perspective of marketing and PR practitioners. We also wrote the book because the critical public relations and marketing of the program have often either been mischaracterized, and it is a story that could only truly be told while many of the key participants were still alive and willing to be interviewed and share their stories with us.

How does public relations fit into the mix of search marketing?


I think “public relations” is misunderstood.

Back in the day, the only way to easily communicate with your public was to use mainstream media and analysts as your mouthpieces. So the public relations department and the agencies they employed spent a great deal of effort convincing editors, reporters and analysts that your company was one worth talking up.

Prior to the Web, there wasn’t an efficient way for organizations to communicate directly to the public.

What’s the role of public relations in the new world of the web?


There has been an explosion of channels that organizations can reach their audience directly with valuable online content: videos, e-books, white papers, photos, infographics, and more – and then have that information shared in social networks.

However, many PR professionals still operate as if their only conduit is mainstream media.

Don’t confuse the superset (public relations = reaching the public with your information) with the subset (media relations = using the media to tell your story) and therefore insist that PR is only about mainstream media.


What you need to realize is that these are different activities. Media relations is still valid as a way to get attention. Who doesn’t want to be quoted in an important newspaper, magazine, or television broadcast?

Today there are so many other ways to communicate with your publics.

If your organization operates this outdated way, my recommendation is to re-name your public relations department the media relations department to reflect what they really do.

In this new world, smart PR pros realize they have a tremendous opportunity if they can effectively communicate directly with the public. They are transforming themselves into content creators. However, most are still operating in the traditional press release and pitching mentality.

If you’re an entrepreneur or executive, don’t put your PR department in charge of content creation for your company (unless they understand completely the power of the new world).

Last book you read…

This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking! in America’s Gilded Capital

Favorite blogs?

Seth Godin

Bob Lefsetz

Marketing the Moon is not just any book, it’s one giant leap for public relations.

Read more about how content marketing put a man on the moon in my latest Search Engine Watch article:


Image Credit:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

three × 5 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.