Public Relations in Space: How to Pitch a Product That Doesn't Exist

There's one key value that companies need when pitching.


Commercial space travel is on the rise, and with it, budding young upstarts are looking to plant their flag in the next big thing. But how do you get investors to cough up dough for products that don’t exist? Here’s what experts at the NewSpace 2016 conference said were the best ways to make your star dreams come true.

One of the most important values to bear in mind is credibility. Promising investors that you can take them to the moon and back may seem like a great way to get your foot in the door, but it could be catastrophic further down the line.

“I know the temptation to try and get attention,” said Brooke Salkoff, corporate director of communications at Sierra Nevada Corporation. “You need to raise money, you need to get your first customers, you need to get press attention that would leave to either of those two things, and so there’s a real temptation when you’re an entrepreneur to sell the dream.”

If things don’t quite go according to plan, journalists may smell a story and create bad publicity. Reporters will dig to find out if there are serious flaws in the roadmap, or if it’s just par for the course. “Schedules slip,” said Jeff Foust, a senior staff writer at SpaceNews. “Sometimes they slip a lot.”

Companies looking for money to visit the stars need to work out how they’re going to get to the stars. Having a feasible plan is vital. “You can’t put a price tag on your own credibility,” Salkoff said.

At the same time, companies will need to put in some groundwork to make themselves seem attractive to reporters. “Always be prepared and do your research,” said Caitlin O’Keefe, director of marketing and communications at Planetary Resources. “You can’t expect journalists to write the story you wanna see, and that’s just the respectful part of the whole industry.”