2004 COMMUNICATOR AWARD RECIPIENT
NASA/Contractor Communications TeamSpace Communicator Award: NASA/Contractor Communications Team
[Dyson, Marianne, 2004 RNASA Program Book, March 11, 2004]
On February 1, 2003, as the nation's attention and grief focused on the human space flight program, a united team of NASA public affairs officials and contractor public relations professionals assembled rapidly to provide the first words and faces to the world in response to the loss of Columbia and her crew. In an unprecedented spirit of cooperation, the NASA-Contractor Communications Team quickly surmounted organizational boundaries and differences between locations, government agencies and corporate entities to create a communications workforce that was open, responsive and effective in providing the most current and authoritative information to the public.
Within minutes after the accident, the NASA-Contractor Communications Team was hit with the first wave of a media onslaught. Within a day, media ranks at the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers swelled to more than 2,500 accredited media representatives from around the world. The team served as the frontline of the Human Space Flight program, skillfully and honestly balancing the demands of the media and the public's right to know while preserving the reputation and integrity of the space program.
Of the many challenges facing the team, one of the most difficult was in quickly and patiently educating many of the on-scene reporters regarding the highly technical nature of the Space Shuttle program. These efforts played a significant role in ensuring the integrity of the media coverage, and thus the integrity and credibility of the program, by promoting accurate accounts of the information known. The openness and responsiveness of the NASA and industry leadership went a long way in reinforcing NASA's reputation as an agency open to finding the root cause of the accident, no matter what it may be.
Under the constant glare of the cameras and commentators across the country for weeks, the NASA-Contractor team conducted itself professionally at all times, demonstrating clearly the dedication and commitment within the human space flight program. Without exception, the members of the NASA-Contractor team put individual needs aside for the benefit of the team.
Behind the cameras, the atmosphere of cooperation was unprecedented as NASA and contractor communicators worked hand-in-hand to research and respond to queries. Contractor team members crossed corporate boundaries to develop coordinated messages that were supportive of the NASA mission. NASA Public Affairs Officers coordinated information across locations to keep program officials at the Johnson Space Center abreast of emerging issues and trends. Across the team, communications professionals provided counsel and support to management and program officials to ensure that the entire human space flight program delivered consistent, coordinated and supportive messages to its many stakeholders.
In summary, this team proved itself capable of meeting the most extreme challenges with courage, fortitude, dedication and compassion. Each individual's efforts presented a human face to the public that represented the Agency long after the cameras left. For this demonstration of integrity, excellence in performance, and commitment to the importance of human space flight, this team was recognized with the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Space Communicator Award.