AB Thinks  →  19th July 2019

A giant leap for communications

It was an event that caught the world’s attention, one of the most important moments in human history. On 20 July 1969, more than 600 million people huddled around television sets and radios as the Apollo 11 lunar mission achieved what many believed impossible (and some conspiracists still refuse to accept) by landing on the Moon.

At that time AB was just a few years old, forging a path in the then-relatively unchartered world of employee communications.

Fifty years on, the grainy footage and crackling audio as astronaut Neil Armstrong announced “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” are still captivating. But they also reveal the great leaps made in communication since then. Then, a scientific outpost in rural Australia helped transmit footage around the world. Today, around 40% of the almost 5,000 satellites currently orbiting the Earth enable communications.

Communicating from space remains a challenge but the means to tell and share their stories and experiences is richer than ever. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield famously brought new media into the mix, creating and sharing content live from the International Space Station – tweeting almost daily and filming his own rendition of ‘Space Oddity’, which has been viewed 44 million times on YouTube.

For me, the anniversary of the moon landing is also a reminder of a memorable afternoon, soon after joining AB, when I was lucky enough to interview one of the Apollo 11 astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon.

He was in town to publicise his book on a possible future mission to Mars. Eyes twinkling like stars, a NASA pen tucked in his top pocket and wearing a tie with a picture of a rocket on it, he was every bit the spaceman storyteller.

“I do have to retell the story rather frequently,” he had admitted with a smile.

The power of great stories remains undiminished and at AB we’re excited by the wealth of ways stories can be shared with our internal audiences. In the week of the anniversary of the Moon landing, we were thrilled to achieve 14 Institute of Internal Communication awards of excellence – covering print and digital publications, writing, design, campaigns, podcasts and our MD Katie as a change maker in the industry.

So whatever your communications objectives, reach for the stars. As Buzz Aldrin put it, “I know the sky is not the limit, because there are footprints on the Moon – and I made some of them!”