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FCW : June 30, 2015
June 30, 2015 FCW.COM 13 A good story well told NASA approves three to five scripts a year and rejects projects that don’t yet have funding lined up. Filmmakers can’t use a NASA endorsement to raise money. 51” all received some support from NASA. Even films that seem to feature hard, genuine science have their flaws, but refusing to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, NASA lends a hand. “The science of ‘Gravity’ was way off,” Jacobs said, adding that NASA con- nected actress Sandra Bullock with an astronaut and talked up the movie on social media during the 2014 Academy Awards event despite the film’s imper- fect science. There are, of course, limits. NASA approves three to five scripts a year, Jacobs said, and rejects projects that don’t yet have funding lined up. Film- makers can’t use a NASA endorsement to raise money. When it can, however, NASA gives scientific input, its logo and other sup- port to films, be they documentaries or superhero flicks, because “there’s value in the inspiration and excitement they create,” Jacobs said. Keeping the ‘social’ in ‘social media’ “I bet we have more [social media accounts] than anyone,” Jacobs said, citing NASA’s nearly 500 accounts on a dozen platforms. The agency is “still try- ing to figure out Snapchat,” he said, but NASA is a popular presence on Flickr (8,800 photos and counting, and that’s just the main account), Twitter (10.3 mil- lion followers, again just on the main account) and Reddit. Separate social media accounts for specific space centers and program offices broaden NASA’s reach. Just having accounts isn’t enough; you need to use them effectively, which NASA does. The agency’s accounts participate in popular trends — like the Academy Awards — but its online popularity might have been best demonstrated dur- ing the partial government shutdown in 2013, when Twitter users took it upon themselves to tweet space updates with the hashtag #ThingsNASAMightTweet. NASA’s social media culture stands in stark contrast to that of some other government agencies. The IRS, with the most in-demand website in government, has many social media accounts but only uses them to issue pre-approved information instead of interacting with taxpayers. Jacobs said it’s important that feds recognize that “people expect to have a conversation [on social media]. It’s not just us transmitting to people.” Social media is meant for engage- ment, not just a box to check off or another place to dump press releases, he added. Before diving into a social media platform, Jacobs said agencies should ask themselves, “What problem am I trying to solve?” Following the law The key to NASA’s social success lies in Section 203 of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, which requires NASA to “provide for the widest prac- 3 4 5 0630fcw_012-025.indd 13 6/10/15 12:57 PM
June 15, 2015
July 15, 2015