It was forty years ago today – and I remember watching the moon landing on TV (there was little else on in those black and white days).
Here are the PR aspects of the story:
- Putting man on the moon in that decade was a commitment made by John F Kennedy in 1961 (his inaugural year as president).
- The space race was the acceptable face of the cold war arms race, mirrored in the UK with Harold Wilson's talk of the 'white heat of technology'. The cold war itself is now history; many of my students were born after the collapse of the 'iron curtain' in 1989.
- The very first word uttered by a man on the moon was 'Houston' as the astronauts sought to make contact with mission control (two decades later I was involved in a large-scale technology launch in the Houston Astrodome). But the most memorable words spoken are based on an error. The speech writer had clearly intended 'one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind' but Neil Armstrong delivered 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.'
- Astronaut Buzz Aldrin has a great name, reflected later in Buzz Lightyear. Surprisingly, there aren't scores of thirty-something PR practitioners today called Buzz. Buzz Bailey has a ring to it, don't you think?