Throughout AIA’s Second to None campaign, one of our most effective communications tools has been the use of social media, including twitter, Facebook, Linkedin among other platforms. Last year, for example, we made great use of our twitter feed @AIAspeaks to promote our “We are the Explorers” movie trailer for the film “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” Also, for the past 100 days, AIA has tweeted success stories from NASA and the space industry as examples of important progress the space program has achieved. And just in the past week, AIA has jumped on board a tweeting firestorm that resulted from Slate.com’s publication of Charles Seife’s polemical attack on NASA, “What is NASA For?” joining a growing cascade of commentary about NASA’s and the space industry’s achievements filed under the hashtag #WhatIsNASAFor.
While a more thoughtful writer might have raised legitimate points about the relative expense, riskiness and scientific merit of NASA’s space endeavors, Seife’s piece as Planetary Society blogger Casey Dreier pointed out was “full of rhetorical tricks, cheap jabs, lazy logic.”
Thankfully, a number of people came to the same conclusion after reading the piece and let their voices be heard. Angela Gibson, an educator who participates in NASA’s social media outreach read the article and decided to start the #WhatIsNASAFor hashtag. In less than a week, it has resulted in an impressive outpouring of tweets that in 140 characters or less speak volumes to the question Seife raised. Here’s a sampling of twitter responses to the article that have amassed an impressive 7.5 million potential viewers:
• More than 35,000 people worldwide have been saved by NASA-powered search and rescue.
• Think NASA is just about space? I walked past an entire building of people doing food security and famine protection every day.
• NASA technology to help develop noninvasive medical treatments.
• NASA scientists develop new device to track planets; equivalent to measuring a dime from 2 miles away.
And my favorite, which seems vaguely familiar: “To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Here’s a link to the various comments about NASA’s contributions to our scientific and technological progress, which includes AIA’s tweets. Significantly, NASA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs Bob Jacobs noticed our efforts and tweeted the following: “An impressive campaign of #WhatisNASAFor posts from @AIAspeaks. Wonder if @Slate knew what it would unleash with its one-sided epistle.” I might add that other AIA member companies have also tweeted using this now famous hashtag, demonstrating how social media tools can be effective communications devices in countering the noise which substitute for reasoned arguments these days.
In the coming months, AIA will continue to use social media and other communications formats to get the word out about the value of our national aerospace programs to the safety and well being of the public.