Siemens, Ford use Curiosity landing to stretch audience

NEW YORK: Companies such as Siemens and Ford are capitalizing on the story of NASA's Curiosity rover landing on Mars to reach beyond their usual target audiences.

NEW YORK: Companies such as Siemens and Ford are capitalizing on the story of NASA's Curiosity rover landing on Mars to reach beyond their usual target audiences.

Siemens learned in February that engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs used its Product Lifecycle Management software to design and test rover models for a Mars landing. Since then, the company has shared that story through events, traditional and social media, and digital platforms.

“This story elevated our coverage beyond trade publications to outlets that had never heard of [Product Lifecycle Management] before and didn't know that Siemens was a huge software company,” said Jim Phelan, director of global public relations for Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software.

Siemens is reaching out to local and national print outlets, and TV, radio, and trade publications. It has also published a blog about the software's role in the landing on the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software website, posted a video on YouTube, and promoted the Mars rover on Twitter. Last month, Siemens held a joint press conference with NASA at the Farnborough International Airshow in England to discuss the importance of the space program and how Siemens' technology was used to overcome engineering challenges.

The company is working with US AOR Weber Shandwick for traditional media relations, Synaptic Digital for TV and broadcast, and Waggener Edstrom on trade outreach. The company also collaborated closely with NASA's PR team, Phelan said.

The story of Siemens' connection to the Curiosity rover has so far landed the company in mainstream outlets including Wired, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC.

“This is a point of enormous pride for all Siemens employees to be part of such a historic moment, and it's a real honor to be able to talk about our role in the landing,” said Camille Johnston, VP of corporate affairs at Siemens.

NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars early Monday morning in a $2.5 billion mission. The rover, which is twice as long and five times as heavy as two previous NASA Mars rovers that landed in 2004, will spend at least two years searching for evidence of life on the planet. The landing is expected to boost NASA's image after the agency faced legislative battles and budget constraints to its space program.

While Ford did not play a role in the Mars landing, the automotive company is gaining press attention by drawing similarities between the Curiosity rover and its Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Ford created an infographic comparing the two vehicles in qualities such as size, speed, and cost. The company is sharing the infographic with science writers at mainstream publications, astronomy, and science outlets, as well as on Ford's Facebook and Twitter pages.

“This gave us the opportunity to tell a different side of the Ford truck story and share this information beyond the automotive press and usual PR targets,” said Ron Hall, communications specialist at Ford.

The automaker's in-house PR team created and promoted the infographic.

Mike Levine, truck communications manager at Ford, said connecting the vehicle with the Curiosity rover is an example of Ford's “enterprise storytelling.” The comparison provided a visual tool for reporters and bloggers to put the Mars rover's size in perspective, he added.

 “We wanted to introduce Ford trucks to new audiences, but also have a little bit of fun,” explained Levine.

Kraft's Oreo brand also unveiled an image of a red cream Oreo cookie marked with tire tracks to celebrate Curiosity's landing. The image, posted on Oreo's Facebook page, is part of the brand's ongoing “Daily Twist” campaign.

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