Where do I even begin? This past week I had the opportunity to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience: partnering with NASA and the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy STP-2 rocket. Out of 700 applicants, I was one of 55 chosen to take part! It was an experience like no other. Not only did I have the opportunity to meet some incredible people, but I also learned a lot.
Before the #NASASocial event, we had the opportunity to get to know each other in a private Facebook group, which was invaluable. This allowed us to somewhat “know” each other on arrival day. But what I loved, even more, is it provided me with a friend and “roommate” for the event. Brandi and I connected, saw that we had some similar interests, and decided to come together for lodging and the event (this is what I love about social media, the ability to connect with people you otherwise would have never of connected with).
During our two-day social event, we explored and experienced all that NASA and Kennedy Space Center had to offer. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:
🚀Learning from those who work behind the scenes at NASA. These people are brilliant. I especially enjoyed learning from Dr. Nicola Fox, Heliophysics Division Director in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. She was engaging, enthusiastic, and very passionate about her work at NASA.
🚀 Seeing launch pad 39B and actually walking on it. Did you know that Apollo 10 was the first mission to begin at launchpad 39B? Also, learning about the flame trench, which is “critical to safely deflecting the plume exhaust from the massive rocket during launch.”
🚀 Seeing launch pad 39A where the Falcon Heavy was being launched from. Being that close was amazing!
🚀Experiencing the Atlantis shuttle up close. It was truly awe-inspiring. The Atlantis shuttle was in service for 26 years, 33 missions, carried 207 astronauts, traveled 126 million miles, and spent 307 days in space. WOW!
🚀 Seeing the memorial tribute to those who lost their lives in the Challenger and Columbia. I will never forget hearing about the Challenger as a little girl. I was captivated by the story of S. Christa McAuliffe and her passion for teaching and students. Seeing her picture and memorabilia was moving.
🚀Walking down the Astronaut walkway, in the footsteps of heroes.
🚀 Learning from retired Astronaut Bill Mcarthur! 👨🚀 He was on STS-54, STS-74 and STS-92, Soyuz TMA-7, Expedition 12. He gave an excellent overview of his time in space!
🚀 Experiencing the launch of the Falcon Heavy ST-2 up close! My eyes and ears had never seen nor heard such power like that! What a scene! It made the 22-hours I was awake, all worth it. Hearing the rocket take off, seeing the boosters separate and then land and hearing the sonic boom, it was just incredible!
🚀 Meeting incredible people from all over the US! I met some very talented photographers, educators, marketing professionals, entrepreneurs, engineers, and leaders from a variety of fields. I was truly surrounded by greatness. I also had the opportunity to meet Tommy, who was our “tour guide” on Monday. The knowledge this man has is AMAZING! A wealth of experience from his years at Cape Canaveral Power Plant and a volunteer at NASA. The biggest tip he shared? He never went to his supervisor with a problem that he didn’t have at least one solution for. He went from #64 to #3 in seniority. I can see why!! What a joy it was to meet him and learn from him.
As someone who works in marketing, social media, and storytelling, I was in heaven. This experience not only reignited my passion for online communication and storytelling, but I learned so much about the space program. Not only did I learn, but my online audience had the opportunity to learn too. Some of them commented that they really enjoyed being on the “adventure” with me.
What can we, as marketing professionals, learn from this?
- #NASASocial is a BRILLIANT idea! To help create awareness around the space program, they put together an event where you can apply to attend an upcoming launch that not only allows you to see the launch up close and personal, but you also get exclusive access to areas you would otherwise not get access to. The outcome? Those who are accepted, share multiple stories about the event online which then, exposes NASA to a brand-new audience. Think influencer marketing. How can you implement something similar for your business and/or organization?
- Stock photos are a thing of the past. People want real, authentic images. The pictures that the professional photographers took at the event were shared multiple times on social media. Online audiences loved seeing the launch, the exclusive access, and the people, through the lens of real pictures. Nothing quite compares to a real photo when sharing a story online. How can you begin creating a plan to share authentic images with your online community? What would they enjoy seeing?
- Video is a must. There were a few of us in the group who shared live video with our audiences. The outcome? They LOVED it! They enjoyed seeing and hearing the live coverage, the realness, the up to the minute information. Our online audiences are not looking for perfection. Instead, they want real, and video allows you to invite your audience into your world, your experience. How can you begin creating a plan to implement live video into your marketing strategy?
- Tap into the stories of others. With so many people attending an event like this, there are multiple stories to learn from. A key ingredient in marketing is the ability to share stories, the stories of your customers, your followers. They are the heroes, and it’s vitally important that you share their stories. Their stories are what will draw people in. I loved hearing the stories of Tommy, Brandi, Allan, and Bill. How can you begin creating a plan to learn more about your customers and their stories? How can you share those stories with the world?
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will be forever grateful for! If ever given the opportunity to do this, go for it! You will not regret it! I’m genuinely thankful for the team at #NASASocial for choosing me to take part in this! To see my photos from the experience, check out my Instagram #NASASocial highlight by clicking HERE.