Marketing Lessons from the Late Jack King

jackkingcontentmarketingPop quiz: What marketing giant took the world to the moon? If you are a space historian, you know the answer is the legendary Jack King, the Chief of Public Information and Public Affairs Officer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

On June 11th, the world said goodbye to the visionary who was the voice of Apollo and one of the fathers of real-time content marketing. You can apply many of the techniques King used to build the public perception of NASA when creating project management solutions of your own.

Jack King’s Claim to Fame

Jack King was the man behind the live chronicling of NASA launches. It is his commentary you hear during the countdown that sent astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon.

It was King’s role behind the scenes that gave birth to brand journalism, though. He wanted to see spacecraft missions covered live on television to make them more personal. With this push, Jack King shaped a brand called NASA.

Think Like a Reporter

In an interview with author David Meerman Scott for his book Marketing the Moon, King stated:

“The core contingent of NASA Public Affairs people—just about all of us—was ex-newsmen. We were good writers, and we knew the news business.”

King used his journalistic past to design content marketing for the space program. The public information team at NASA did not just work strictly with what was handed to them. They went out and found newsworthy information. That was how they kept the public interested in their brand.

You can use this same newsjacking technique to build interest in your products and services. Advertising is disruptive, but the news is informative and creates an air of authority.

Don’t Script Real-Time Content

King refused to script his commentary during the launches. Marketers who develop real-time programs such as webinars and social media events should follow his lead.

By scripting the conversation, you lose that personal touch. Keep the discussion loose and friendly by letting your audience have some control. Use notes to bring the talk back on track if necessary and to cover all your main points.

Transparency Pays Off

Transparency was a big part of why King wanted to do the launch commentary live. Authenticity creates trust. Doing content marketing in real-time is risky, but it offers your audience that same level of transparency.

Real-Time Creates Brand Enthusiasts

If you learn nothing else from the late Jack King, learn this one thing. King believed that letting the world watch live as Neil Armstrong took that one small step for mankind would change the way people viewed NASA. He was right. They were glued to their TVs four months later to watch Apollo 12 head to space. The world came back again and again for more.

King understood the struggle to create content and make it real for audiences. That real-time mindset is the basis for mainstream social media. He knew the power of developing a brand using journalism as the voice. Today, businesses around the world use his techniques to shape their own brands.

Thanks, Jack.

Writer Bio: Darla F is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in helping agencies meet their goals by developing creative and engaging content.


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