How NASA newsjacked the opening weekend of ‘The Martian’

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope takes close up of planet Mars. Photo courtesy of NASA.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took this close-up photo of planet Mars. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

The buzz around human missions to Mars has been around for decades, but Hollywood’s latest depiction of the red planet, “The Martian,” renewed interest in making the missions a reality.

The $55 million opening weekend movie features astronaut Mark Watney who is left behind on Mars to survive on the uninhabitable planet until help arrives. NASA piggybacked off of “The Martian” to prove that by 2030, what is thought to be fiction could be a reality.

NASA brings ‘The Martian’ to life

Through newsjacking – adding content to a trending topic or event – NASA took advantage of a stellar conversation by making a little announcement of its own.

Dark streaks found on Mars inferred to be evidence of a water flow. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The dark streaks on Mars were found to be evidence of a water flow. (Courtesy of NASA)

On Sept. 28, just four days before the release of the movie, NASA released groundbreaking evidence of liquid water flowing on Mars. NASA released photos and videos of hydrated minerals on slopes that was decidedly evidence of water flow.

NASA’s website now has a page called “The Real Martians.” The page is dedicated to the real life efforts and technologies that are being taken and created by NASA.

NASA included an article on the webpage titled “Nine real NASA technologies in ‘The Martian,’” explaining in detail the technologies used in the film that exist today.

The space organization used the keyword “Martian” in its articles to direct film traffic to its own website. NASA was to sure to work its editorial calendar around the film’s and was a step ahead when releasing information of water discovery.

NASA’s teams were assigned and ready to publish content around the release of the movie and took a giant leap to generate media coverage and accomplish the organization’s vision — “To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what (they) do and learn will benefit all humankind.”

Learn to launch into a conversation

Real location on Mars associated with “The Martian.” Photo courtesy of NASA.

Real location on Mars associated with “The Martian.” Photo courtesy of NASA.

Contributing a voice to a trending conversation, like NASA did so seamlessly, takes careful preparation and planning to catch attention.

“Newsjacking is injecting your news into what is breaking or trending, making yourself part of the story and generating media coverage for yourself or your organization,” said Lisa Buyer, author of “Social PR Secrets.” Buyer was named one of the top 40 Digital Strategists in 2013 and has spent her entire professional life dedicated to the world of public relations and online branding.

Breaking away from the traditional editorial calendar and taking part in media discussions helps organizations become more relevant to their audiences and catch their attention.

Newsjacking is a great way to inject a voice into a trending conversation. Learn from NASA; weeks after the release of the movie and water announcement, dialogue revolved not only around the film but the space organization as well.

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