‘Mars One’ is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Mars One will select and train the human crew for settlement on Mars in 2023 (see www.mars-one.com).
So what has Mars got to do with PR? Mars One shows us the future of PR: Social PR. Social PR is not interested in the news. It is all about ‘seeding’ information so that it spreads organically across social networks.
How does it work? Mars One started its search for the first humans on Mars in April last year. Since then, the storytelling train took off. In May, Mars One announced that 78,000 people had signed up for a one-way (!) mission to Mars. By that stage, the news had spread all over the world. This week, my local newspaper in Antwerp (Belgium) announced that one out of every five Belgians who were selected for the mission is from Antwerp. So, the Antwerp space cadet is one of the 705 (!) candidates worldwide who made it to the final list. For sure similar news stories about other space cadets were picked up by local media all over the world.
Mars One is food for news media, bloggers and people like you and me on social media networks who want to cover the story, comment on the project and discuss the ‘should I stay or should I go’ question. And, what’s the PR cost for Mars One? A few press releases and a solid social media presence. For the record, Mars One’s Facebook account already has 126,000 fans while almost 30,000 (and counting) are following it on Twitter.
What’s the value for Mars One? Media value! Can you imagine a global Big Brother-like TV show that finds four people and puts them together in a small space for three years? Global advertisers and sponsors would love to spend their media budgets on a TV show like that one.
Lessons learned? Stand out with a better story. Make your idea matter. The crowd will pick up on it and word-of-mouth will do its work. PR is not dead.PR is flying high. Ask Red Bull's space diving project. Although it’s not about the content itself, it’s about the value you create with the content through social PR.
After seeding comes the harvest. You’d better hire some damn good content and social PR experts* because the world has changed. You don’t need to compete with the big guys. You have everything you need to bring your ideas to life. And Social PR is your travel buddy. Bon voyage!