The main difference between the American and Russian space programs was that NASA decided to follow an “open program” in which information on all aspects of the program would be freely available to the public.
Moreover, it was decided at the time that NASA, and not the military establishment would control the flow of information, but additionally, that all relevant information would be disseminated before each mission, and not like the Russian program, via a short press release after the event.
In terms of the mechanics of the marketing campaign, NASA’s Public Affairs Office decided not to interfere in the message conveyed, but that it would only control the rate at which information was released. Moreover, since the Public Affairs Office was not staffed by newsmen, NASA appointed ex-newsmen to do the actual reporting.
Newsmen and Media Flow of Information
This was a revolutionary step, since no other government agency had ever used the principle that “Newsmen know what other newsmen want and need,” in the sense that newsmen knew better than anyone else which stories in which language, and in which media would have the biggest impact.
To further support the campaign, NASA provided everything their reporters required- from by-lined articles, television and film newsreels, background material in the form of technical information, drawings, diagrams, and even sponsored media symposiums and conferences. NASA also sponsored and produced several radio broadcasts that included interviews and sound effects.
The result was spectacular. The continuous flow of accurate, and unbiased information had the effect of keeping the Apollo missions firmly lodged in the collective American mind, but not only that, all information was available to whoever wanted, or needed it anywhere in the world. Even the many failures and disasters were fully reported on, and rarely in the history of marketing was a campaign as successful as the Apollo campaign.
Space Program Advertising Success
Not even the cynical comments made at the time that it was better to advertise the space program than to reveal its true cost to the American tax payer, had any negative impact on the success of the campaign. Unfortunately, the same tactics were not employed for the Space Shuttle Program, which is perhaps just as well, since the Challenger disaster almost completely destroyed public confidence in the Space program.
Learn more about NASA Space Programme by Michelle Legro on brain Pickings