SpaceFlight Insider Launches Success in a Changing Online Market

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Rhian, senior editor and founder of Spaceflight Insider, an online journal covering the space industry. While space is his game, marketing is mine, and I found his unique approach to media marketing in a changing advertising environment quite novel. Read on to learn how he does it …

Spaceflight Insider, a relative newcomer to the space industry media scene, hit the ground running. While operating on a shoestring budget from a handful of supporters, the team got creative. By freely sharing high-quality content for almost a year, Spaceflight Insider has captured increased attention, and the publication’s focus on editorial integrity over advertising sales has lent credibility to the operation. Because Website traffic drives online success, directing visitors to the site became the team’s primary strategy, and the social-media savvy team got cranking.

“We are gaining new visitors everyday,” said Jason Rhian, senior editor and founder. “We’ve now get several hundred thousand unique visitors every month who are viewing our content, and that excites sponsors who gain visibility along with us.”

“We found early on that the traditional advertising model was dead, so we looked at how we could drive value for sponsors,” said Rhian. The team turned to novel revenue streams for an online publication. Instead of charging for direct advertising space, they bill for outside services, such as audio-visual production, newsletters, and photography stills that sponsors want for their own businesses. The sponsors pay for those specialty services, and in turn earn a spot on the SpaceFlight Insider website.

From the start, the revenue concept presented concerns for Rhian: He believes that as a journalistic outfit, Spaceflight Insider is obliged to remain unbiased, so the company is sometimes forced to decline posting otherwise interesting news and feature articles if the content could be viewed as promoting sponsors who sign up for services.

“Some outlets have abandoned their duty to stay unbiased and have knowingly entered into direct conflicts of interest,” Rhian said. “We have told our sponsors flat out that we will not violate core journalistic tenets to garner sales.”

Another challenge was the pricing itself. “To get off the ground, we started by charging about a tenth of the cost of what our services actually retailed for,” Rhian added. “While this pricing strategy took more time to build revenue, it helped us get in the game. It also gave us a chance to gain our footing and demonstrate what we could do.”

The company’s efforts have worked. “We now have a very pleasant relationship with, for example, Space Florida, Flexure Engineering, and the Florida International Business school, and other companies such as Space Shirts in Merritt Island, FL. We help get them what they want. If they need us to, we’ll go out and shoot stills and video for them, or assist with another project. We ask our sponsors to pay a reasonable flat rate for whichever media products they need. This approach has turned into a win-win for our sponsors and for us. We believe the Spaceflight Insider business model will prove profitable in both the short and long terms,” Rhian told me.

So my friend, you now know how Spaceflight Insider generates business in challenging times. The company discarded an age-old revenue model in favor of a new path. Are you inspired to think beyond the box, too? If so, let me know what you will do to shift the marketing odds in your favor. I look forward to hearing from you and will consider posting your success story here at, too. Keep me apprised of your news. Best of luck!


JASON RHIAN, FOUNDER AND SENIOR EDITOR OF SPACEFLIGHT INSIDER departed a career in law enforcement to pursue his dream of bringing the story of space exploration to the world.

Looking for Publicity?

“Worry not that no one knows you. Seek to be worth knowing.”

Clients and colleagues often ask me how to attract attention to their business. Here are a few tips for getting the publicity you may be craving. You’ll find additional tips in my book, Marketing Demystified (McGraw-Hill, 2010).

Tip 1 – Focus First on ValueWant to know where I found a particular gem of PR wisdom? Inside a fortune cookie. That’s right, smack dab in the middle of a Chinese restaurant. And, I knew that cookie was truly meant for me — a PR Person — when I read the gold inside. The little white slip in my hand advised me to “Worry not that no one knows of you. Seek to be worth knowing.” It doesn’t get more profound than that. So, as soon as I read it, I knew I would share that bit of wisdom with my web community, friends and clients.I hope you love the essence of that message as much as I do. It gets right to the heart of marketing and public relations as it calls us to create value for others. What better way is there to become known, earn a great reputation and serve the world?In today’s cluttered, time-starved, media world, delivering value is the best way to differentiate yourself. Garnering public recognition for your work, accomplishments or special causes starts with delivering value. But it doesn’t end there. If people don’t find out how valuable you are, you may as well be shouting underwater as big waves tumble over. You go glug-glug, but no one notices. First, ensure value, then spread the word.

Tip 2 – Craft a Compelling Message

Behavior is shaped by beliefs. Decide what you want people to believe about you, your product, service or firm. As you do, also consider the benefit to people in believing that. How will it serve them? How will it serve you? That reminds me: more than 20 years ago, when I turned in my first newspaper article, my editor looked up at me and asked, “So What?” As a novice reporter, I had written a grammatically correct, historically accurate account of the news. I was proud of my writing, but I quickly learned that it didn’t command attention. I did what I had been taught in school. I wrote for a crescendo. But news writing is about immediate impact. When you craft your message, go for the gold up front. Get right to the point.

Tip 3 – Think Like a Reporter

Reporters look for the new and different, as well as the meaningful. To get a sense for what writers in your targeted media are after, read what they are writing about and learn what interests them. Can you help a reporter expand on a series, write about a related item, or meet a deadline? Do you have a thrilling insight or tip that can help them win a Pulitzer? (Well, one can hope!) As competitive as it is to get into the news, summer may be just the right time. When people, schools and businesses take vacation, news items slow down. This offers an opportunity for creative pitching, especially if you can offer something seasonal, or if you are thinking ahead for back-to-school or holiday stories. When pitching your story, be prepared with several angles, so when a reporter asks, “what else have you got?” or “why is that significant?” you will have a powerful answer. Plan in advance; don’t wait until the last minute. And always submit calendar notices at least two to four weeks ahead of anticipated publication dates. Check the media deadlines so you won’t get caught short.

Tip 4 – Don’t Wait for the Press

Write and post your own news release on the Web. Make a video to spread on YouTube. Write your nws on a blog. The Internet becomes a more powerful communications medium every day. Jump in and create PR waves that others can surf. Writing selectively on blogs of interest will help you get your name and perspective out there. Developing your own website or blog can provide a worldwide podium. (Be sure to search engine optimize your web pages if you want people to find your news.) As you get used to blogging, you’ll refine your messages. If you blog often, you’ll begin to build a content powerhouse. Write news releases  that you can post on your own website for public consumption. While you are doing your own think, make time to send press releases out. You can email them yourself to your favorite news editors, or use a wire service. Also remember to submit your news to e-zines, company newsletters and friends.

Tip 5- Know the News

A great way to get into the news is to know the news. Watch, read and listen to what is happening around you. Think about where your story fits in. Pay attention to which reporters cover topics in your bailiwick. When doing outreach, choose reporters and publications with an interest in your subject. To maximize results, ask a professional for help.

If you have PR questions or concerns, please contact me. Email your question to:

Never Underestimate the Power of a T-Shirt

Brenda Mulberry, founder and president of Pike Products Space Shirts in Merritt Island coined the phrase, “Never Underestimate the Power of a T-shirt.” Brenda’s company has screen printed millions of T-shirts for thousands of customers. While her company focused mainly on the aerospace and aviation niche for most of 30 years, Brenda’s manufacturing outlet and retail store also custom designs T-shirts, polo shirts and branded apparel for orders as small as one shirt or numbering into the thousands.

One thing I’ve learned from Brenda is that the space on a T-shirt is prime advertising real estate. “It’s all about using the space on a T-shirt to increase visibility,” says Brenda. When people wear a shirt sporting your logo or message in crowds, you increase brand recognition. When your employees wear branded shirts, you increase team identity. When you put product pictures on shirts, you increase interest and can motivate prospective customers to ask you questions. And, when you create T-shirts with beautiful art or meaningful slogans, you can inspire people to take interest in an organization, cause, product, person, place or thing, and to take action.

Ask me how to get T-shirts or other promotional products to help build your business, organization, products or special project. Send me an email at or click here for a wide selection of blank customizable apparel that you can use to promote your business.


The BoldBlogger Returns Soon to AM Radio

Donna Anselmo, aka, The BoldBlogger, CEO, Bold Marketing Solutions, Inc., (Melbourne, FL); and host of BOLDTALK Business Radio© which aired on WMEL between 2009 and 2011, will return to  AM1300 WMEL, The Talk to Me Station.

Listen to Donna on occasional segments of the popular Information Overload Hour with station owner/president John Harper. Donna is expected to air May 29 between 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM. Stay tuned for more broadcast dates.

Learn about the power of radio during a planned interview in which Donna will uncover radio secrets and stories as told by John Harper. When BOLDTALK Business Radio© returns to the air after a long hiatus, Donna also will deliver high quality content, insight, strategies, tips and tools for success, in keeping with the prior iteration of this show.

Want to do a radio spot?
If you have a business or professional development topic you would like to discuss with Donna on BOLDTALK Business Radio©, please email Donna at: