Monday, October 31, 2011

Mission to Mars

You won’t find me in the stores come Black Friday. I’ll be riveted to the TV, watching NASA launch its latest mission to Mars. If all goes according to plan, the Mars Science Laboratory will lift off at 10:25 a.m. East Coast time on November 25, and arrive at Mars at roughly 10:00 p.m. West Coast time next August 5.

Though as an old space geek I’d probably watch anyway, I’m particularly invested in this mission. Laura Hermann and I traveled to the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., recently (twice) to provide media training for a team of engineers responsible for getting MSL safely from the edge of the Martian atmosphere down to the planet's surface.

MSL will deliver the largest payload ever to the surface of another planet, the Curiosity rover. It’s about the size of a Mini Cooper, and it will look for signs that Mars once had – or currently has – the conditions necessary to sustain life. The NASA Langley engineers also will collect data on the spacecraft’s descent to the surface and use it to improve on future missions, both manned and unmanned.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a terrific video showing the spacecraft’s entry, descent and landing. It’s amazing what they can do on a planet tens of million miles away.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Long Live The Cloud

I am completely dependent on Dropbox. I quickly switch between my iPad, Iphone and PC working on important client deliverables and saving them in one place with ease. It is the power of cloud storage at its finest and, much like e-mail, Facebook and many other innovations before, I have trouble remembering a time when their wasn't a virtual drive available to me. Because of this addiction, and the fact that I am a sucker for a teasing headline, I couldn't help but share a link that caught my eye via Twitter from CNET.

4 Killer Dropbox Tricks

I am putting this on the blog today because, who doesn't want killer tricks? And secondly, because it is a great example of Twitter headline writing that can grab views. It is informational and promises value you can use if you only click on the link.

As communicators who are often tasked with creating catchy Twitter headlines for clients, we should remember to think about what catches our eye and apply this standard to our own social media approach.

If all else fails, add the word "killer" or "crazy" or some other equally outrageous term to your next post. It won't always work, but it will make you feel hip and relevant. See you in the cloud.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Innovation Takes Center Stage at the Polyurethanes 2011 Technical Conference

Courtesy of the
American Chemistry Council
We recently had the opportunity to support the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) on its Polyurethanes 2011 Technical Conference, which was held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. In the months leading up to the conference, we worked with both ACC and CPI staff to provide communications and media relations support.

The trade media in attendance were pleased with this year’s conference program and had the opportunity to interview several members of CPI leadership and other industry insiders. There will certainly be some great stories about this year’s conference in the coming weeks.

Courtesy of the
American Chemistry Council
After hearing about previous years’ conferences and anticipating the arrival of this year’s conference for several months, it was exciting to see the event come to life and work with both ACC and CPI staff onsite.

Congratulations to the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry and the American Chemistry Council on an outstanding event!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cameras in the Supreme Court?

Should our top court become a reality show?

That’s the way I see the issue raised most recently by Kenneth Starr (ex-independent counsel, now president of Baylor University) in a New York Times op ed yesterday. The court itself seems to believe that televising hearings would fundamentally change the nature of their proceedings. Justice Kennedy, for example, has testified that the justices themselves would inevitably start playing to the cameras, putting more emphasis on lively “sound bites” for the evening news, promoting their positions, than on serious questioning and consideration. Starr dismisses these concerns: “The idea that cameras would transform the court into “Judge Judy” is ludicrous.”

It may be a hard call, but to me it’s not just a difference of opinion. We have facts – a very relevant case study – to guide us. TV cameras began broadcasting the House of Representatives in 1979 and the Senate in 1986. Has anyone noticed any change of tone or style in our Congressional discourse since then?

Case closed.

- Potomac Communications Group