Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ground control's a major yawn.

"Perhaps if you used
active verbs."
If you’ve got bad news to report and you don’t want the story to get legs, put it out on a Friday afternoon.

But if your story absolutely, positively should never see the light of day, give it to NASA’s PR department. These communication dementors could suck the soul out of any tale–from the diapered-astronaut-attempted-murder caper to the Russian meteor brushback pitch.

NASA held a news conference this week to tell the world that the Rover found evidence that Mars could have supported life eons ago—that there is a very real possibility that life could have existed on freakin’ Mars!

Here’s how heralded this extraordinary news: “Wow! Ancient Mars Could Have Supported Primitive Life, NASA Says”

Here’s NASA’s headline: “NASA Rover Finds Conditions Once Suited for Ancient Life on Mars”

We’re not suggesting that NASA has to go full-Onion on us (though that would be pretty cool). But after flying through space for eight-and-a-half months and spending more than $2.5 billion of our Christmas Club savings on gas, snacks and trinkets that you don’t need and you’re just going to lose, we thought you might be a little more excited about finding what you went up there looking for.

Ah well. Once again, it’s time for us to profit from another flack’s mistake.

NASA’s PR department, thinking with their slide rules again, presented this Mars-shattering news without the slightest thought of their audience which, as we’ve learned by now, is a Bozo no-no. Your audience–and their individual and collective reactions–must color your story and how you tell it. Every word, every phrase, every gesture.

To paraphrase Bananarama, “It ain’t what you say it’s the way that you say it.”

That’s what gets results.

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