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Daniel Keeney

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Communicating NASA’s Year In Space

For more than a year prior to launching the Year in Space mission, I had the honor and pleasure of working with NASA’s scientific team. Our collective goal was to transform the highly technical and complex information underlying the mission into compelling and actionable communication that engages and mobilizes the public.

It has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my career to see how our work has helped NASA tell its story — both through its own communications channels and through third parties such as TIME, which is closely following the mission.

The key to understand for all organizations and all communicators is that adults consume and remember information best if it is in the form of a personal story. What will you do in a year’s time? How will the world change in a year? How will the people in your life change over that period of time? It is hard to think about without getting very personal.

If you are delivering data without a personal and emotion-based context, the people with whom you are communicating will have great difficulty remembering it. Our brains typically do not work that way. If you demand that of your audience, you will be disappointed.

Therefore, it is essential that you get personal. If this is difficult for you, guess what? It’s difficult for everyone! This is why you stand out as a communicator when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and open up about your feelings and dreams. As you watch the video above, take in both the content of what people are saying and the pace at which they say it. When we talk about things that are important, we slow down. We allow each thought and idea — every word and phrase — to have space to breathe. Nothing should be rushed.

Tonight Scott Kelly breaks the American record for the longest single space shot. Whoops! I buried the lede.

This record is a major scientific achievement and an accomplishment that he shares with hundreds of the smartest and most committed people you could ever imagine — all working behind the scenes. Applaud Astronaut Kelly and applaud the entire NASA community. They deserve it and would appreciate it more than you could know. When you consider your tax dollars at work, you can and should be proud of the scientific advances being made and the steps being taken toward further exploration beyond lower earth orbit to the Moon and onto Mars.

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Dan Keeney is the president of DPK Public Relations, which represents PULSE, The Aldridge Company, Schipul - The Web Marketing Company, Society for Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication, ERHC Energy, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Arocha Hair Restoration among other companies. Specialties include helping organizations increase their positive visibility and establish and strengthen relationships with influencers in their markets.