You might recall my earlier blog regarding the Cassini probe’s photo of the Earth from its vantage point near the planet Saturn. The apparent silliness of urging the human race to wave toward a camera lens nearly a billion miles away was easily ignored as people beheld the tiny blue dot near Saturn’s stunningly backlit rings.
This week’s photo was a lot closer to home, yet it was poignant in its own way. The shot, taken by the SUV-sized robot Curiosity from the surface of Mars, shows a pinprick of light high above a hilly horizon at sunset. That “evening star” was, of course, our home planet.
What I think made Curiosity’s photo more powerful is the realization that we’re only 15 or 20 years away from a person standing on the Red Planet and seeing that image with human eyes. Indeed, it’s easy to imagine that those eyes belong to any of us. We can envision ourselves where Curiosity now stands, looking up at that tiny blue orb and thinking of home.
With one photograph, NASA made all of us part of the next great adventure—if only in our imaginations.
In the practice of public relations, it’s not always that easy. (Not that sending a 2,000-pound, $2.5 billion robot to Mars is easy!) But making your audience part of the story is a worthy goal. If they feel part of the tale, rather than mere listeners, they are much more likely to be actively engaged—in the cause, the dialogue, the successes. Getting there means personally knowing your audience, not just guessing what they want or care about.
Does that take extra and sincere effort? Absolutely. But when everyone is marveling at the rising star, it’s an effort that is meaningful for all.