NASA Strategic Management Council 25 April 2007: Strategic Communications Framework Implementation Plan


Ninth Item of Business: Strategic Communications Framework Implementation Plan

Chief of Strategic Communications (acting) Bob Hopkins presented the recent results of additional research intended to improve NASA's communication with a number of audiences.

  • Hopkins summarized previous research findings: NASA has excellent brand recognition but people surveyed have little specific knowledge of NASA activities; NASA's base support is the "Apollo" generation, more men than women support exploration, and younger audiences have little or no NASA frame of reference.
  • He described the recent testing, how it was done, and presented specific results. He showed NASA's image ranked against other organizations recently in the news, the percentage of those surveyed who think space exploration is important and those who see NASA as being relevant to their lives.
  • Hopkins showed how audiences changed their view of NASA when provided with information regarding technologies NASA has helped to develop, and how increased knowledge changed perceptions of NASA's contribution to the US economy.
  • He presented interest data broken down by gender and age; by those aware of and excited by NASA's plans to revisit the Moon and send human explorers to Mars.
  • Hopkins described the outcome of focus groups probing public interest in NASA- enabled technologies and underlying attitudes regarding space exploration.
  • He concluded with a summary of research findings, and reported that NASA's permission to survey the public has been extended for three years.

Members questioned some of the technologies cited in the testing as growing out of NASA research and development, stating that NASA does more fundamental than applied research. Porter specifically questioned including smoke detectors in the list and stated that there are aeronautics inventions that NASA can take full credit for having done the research. Members stressed the need to be accurate.

SMC Decision: The Administrator directed that the Office of Communications Planning thoroughly vet NASA claims that the Agency was responsible for the research that enabled technologies ultimately used by the general public (e.g., smoke detectors) with in-house experts before it can be included in Agency messages.

SMC Action: The Office of Communications Planning is to vet the current list of NASA "spinoff" technologies being used in the Office's message testing with in house experts, specifically the Innovative Partnership Program Director Doug Comstock, Howard Ross of PA&E, and, with specific regard to smoke detector technology, Aeronautics Research Associate Administrator Lisa Porter, due by the next meeting.

SMC Action: Members are to provide suggestions for additional Agency message research to the Office of Communications Planning by the next meeting.

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