Want to secure press coverage on your company this year? Here's what you need to know. Photo via All You Need Method

If you’re looking to build brand awareness, establish trust and credibility, and reach more customers in 2023, landing a press placement can be impactful for your small business. A traditional PR placement, also known as “earned media,” is one of the most valuable endorsements for a business, and you do have to earn it.

The good news is that in today’s digital landscape you don’t need a PR agency or consultant to land press coverage, you can pursue media coverage on your own. By prioritizing your brand foundation and telling your brand story through your owned channels (such as your website, newsletter and social media platforms), you can capture the attention of the media. Pair a strong brand and storytelling with the appropriate tactics for working with editors, and you will be set up for success.

Read our insider tips below to help you secure press coverage for your business this year.

1. Good PR starts with your brand

If you’ve ever wondered how to catch the attention of an editor, it starts with your brand — and by brand, we don’t just mean your branding (logo, colors, fonts, etc.) — although that is one component.

Good PR starts with a good story, one that is unique and differentiated. Editors are looking for more than just a product or service – they are looking for something special and new that their readers will benefit from.

Building your brand is about establishing the personality and story behind your business that goes beyond sales and promotions. Taking the time to build your brand is one of the best investments you can make as a small business owner. Not only will it help with your PR and marketing efforts, but it will also support your overall long-term success.

Building a brand foundation and learning how to tell your brand story includes your company positioning, your values, articulating what makes you different, crafting your founding story, refining your visual aesthetic and tone of voice, and much more.

Being able to communicate what makes you different, what you stand for, what you have to offer, and what you want to be known for – and developing a brand aesthetic that reflects your unique point of view – will allow you to stand out from the competition and capture the attention of the media.

2. Tell your own story

In our digital world brands are being discovered online. This means that your website and Instagram channel are often the first impression of your business to both consumers and editors. That said, it’s essential for your success that your digital presence communicates and reflects your brand foundation – the personality and substance behind your business. One question to consider is if your ideal customer or editor came to your website or Instagram for 30 seconds, would they walk away knowing the three most important things about your business and with a clear idea of what you stand for, what makes you different, and what you have to offer?

Your owned channels also provide an exciting opportunity to connect directly with your ideal customers, influencers, potential partners, as well as the media. By sharing your brand narrative consistently across your owned channels, you have the potential to build a meaningful relationship with your audience that can grow into loyal followers and customers.

The key is communicating consistently – you want your brand to be cohesive across all channels, so that everything from an Instagram post to your homepage reflects the unique brand positioning you’ve established. To achieve a consistent brand narrative, you want to make sure your messaging, photography, copywriting, graphics, and any other creative materials reflect the brand foundation you’ve built.

An invaluable practice at any stage of business is to conduct a brand audit in order to evaluate if your digital channels are communicating your brand foundation effectively. Read our three steps for conducting a brand audit here.

3. Draft and organize your materials

Drafting and organizing materials is one of the first tasks to tackle when preparing to reach out to the media. Editors are inundated with emails (thousands and thousands a day) and receiving easy-to-review dropbox links and files makes their job much easier. A lengthy email without a clear hook is a sure way to end up in someone’s Trash folder and left unread.

We cannot express enough how important photography is for securing press. Many publications rely on a brand’s photography. Without images it is oftentimes impossible for an editor to cover a brand. This goes for your personal brand too - if you’re an expert or offer a service, you will also need to provide a professional headshot or lifestyle image. Brands with consumer products will also need to show product photography.

There are a wide range of materials you may need based on your industry, but here are the essentials:

  • About page: a one-page document outlining the who, what, when, where, and why of your company
  • Bio: an overview of your background and why you started your company, with a few personal details
  • Line Sheet: images, pricing and key details for product collections
  • Product photography: Lay flats of your product on a white seamless background
  • Lifestyle photography: Images that bring your product or service to life by showing them in use
  • Headshot: Professional photo of the founder or expert styled in a way that is relevant to the brand. I.e. if you’re a chef or a nutritionist, take your headshot in a beautiful kitchen, if you’re an artist or interior designer take your headshot in your studio

4. Research, research, research

We often get asked how to know who to reach out to. Every publication is different, which is why research is very important. Taking the time to properly research will save you a lot of time in the long-run and allow you to pinpoint which outlets and contacts are the best fit for your business. As you research, be sure to organize contact information and notes into a media list so you can keep track of who to reach out to and any feedback you receive.

We have a free media list template that you can download here.

When researching, keep these four tips in mind:

  • Be targeted – Focus on publications whose audience matches your own and who feel like a fit with your brand aesthetic and values
  • Scope out the competition - Where have your competitors, or brands and experts you admire, been featured?
  • Read recent articles - Whether you pick up magazines or do a Google search, look and see who has been writing about brands or other experts in your industry lately. When you use Google Search, use the Tools option to narrow down your search to articles in the past 6 months or year.
  • Look at the masthead - A magazine’s masthead is a list of its editorial staff and can give you helpful insight into who covers which category. You can usually find a masthead online, or in the front pages of a print publication.

5. Think like an editor

Editors are looking for interesting stories, new items, and pieces that will pop on a page. They work off of editorial calendars, and many magazines have set themes for each month. You can Google a magazine’s editorial calendar to find out their upcoming themes and think about where there might be a fit for your product or service, or for you as the founder of your business.

To think like an editor, keep these three tips in mind:

  1. Utilize Editorial Calendars. Most reputable magazines, outline outlets, and even blogs, share an annual “editorial calendar” on their website. Editorial calendars outline the theme for each issue, the date the issue comes out, and the topics they are covering. While editorial calendars are technically created for advertisers, they are an invaluable free resource for PR planning if you know how to use them to your advantage.
  2. Learn Lead Times. Be sure to keep what PR professionals call “lead times'' in mind. There are two main categories most publications and media outlets fall into: long lead and short lead. Long lead publications are typically glossy print publications or special issues of a newspaper that work about working three to six months in advance. For example, if you want to pitch an item for a holiday gift guide in a December issue (which hits stands in November) you want to be ready to send that information to the publication in July. Short lead publications and/or outlets include daily newspapers, weekly magazines, online outlets, such as digital versions of magazines and blogs, and broadcast news. Their lead times can range from a month in advance, to a week or even less.
  3. Understand What is “Newsworthy” vs. Seasonal/Evergreen. Editors cover what is new and newsworthy, as well as seasonal and evergreen topics that are relevant to their readers. When thinking about what you have to pitch, such as a specific product, consider whether it is evergreen and can be covered at any time, or if it is a seasonal item. This will guide the timing and context of your pitch.

6. Build relationships

Building relationships is incredibly impactful when it comes to landing press placements. Reaching out in a personal way, gifting your product or service, and keeping in touch with editors and writers over time will increase your chances of being covered with the right fit arrives.

When reaching out to editors, what do you have to offer? News? Tips? A cool new product collection to check out? This is not a transactional relationship, think long term and how you can be a resource for this editor or publication beyond what you are pitching at this moment.

Personalization and authenticity are key. Your first email to an editor should not be a “pitch” or a press release, it should be an introduction of yourself and your business. Be sure to research each person in advance and follow them on social media so you can personalize each email – mention a recent article of theirs that you enjoyed reading, or a recent Instagram post on their feed that you found interesting.

If you are able to set up a call, Zoom, or in person meeting, that is ideal for relationship building. We also recommend offering to gift your product or service to contacts at outlets that are on the top of your dream press list. This goes a long way and will allow them to be able to speak about your product or service from firsthand experience.

Lastly, be sure to follow up. If you don’t hear back, there is a good chance they missed your first email. Wait a couple of weeks and send a nice follow up. Remember, this is a long game and it takes time.

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Kathryn Worsham Humphries and Carla M. Nikitaidis are the Co-Creators of All You Need Method, a PR and brand strategy consulting firm for small business owners, creative entrepreneurs, and digital creators who are looking to build a brand and raise brand awareness through PR, content marketing, and partnerships. They offer support through their online course, The Brand Starter Kit, 1:1 Strategy Sessions, and custom client projects.

Two seasoned public relations experts are providing resources for startups and small businesses. Photo courtesy of All You Need Method

Two female founders create a PR solution for startups and small businesses in Houston and beyond

all you need

Public relations can feel elusive and overwhelming to small business owners. Carla Nikitaidis and Kathryn Worsham Humphries, two seasoned communications consultants, are used to hearing clients ask if they need PR — and more often than not, "what does PR even mean?"

The two women are lifting integrated marketing's curtain to help early-stage businesses and entrepreneurs understand and implement their own communication plans. Houston-based Humphries and California-based Nikitaidis launched All You Need Method, an online course and consulting business designed for small business owners, to help provide agency-level strategy without the expensive price tag.

All You Need Method compiles Nikitaidis and Humphries years of communications experience into an accessible course, The PR Starter Kit.

"We packaged it together in a way where if you're the founder of a small business, you can take our course and get started down the right path of telling your story, being strategic, setting goals, and growing your brand," explains Humphries.

The $249 course is a small sum compared to the often costly prices of hiring on a PR agency, which Humphries explains have monthly retainers ranging from $3,000 to $20,000. The price point is much more manageable for a small company, she explains.

The partners first crossed paths in New York City, sharing a mutual love for PR. Nikitaidis worked for a string of large agencies, representing popular brands like Target, CVS, and Shiseido. Humphries, a University of Texas graduate, landed in Manhattan to fulfill internships at Ralph Lauren, Teen Vogue, and Lonny magazine.

When Nikitaidis left her agency role to start CMN PR, a firm focused on early-stage businesses, and brought Humphries on as her first employee. "She was so smart and strategic — such a partner from day one," says Nikitaidis.

After five years of CMN PR, the two joined a client's in-house team and, eventually, departed to their own adventures. Humphries joined the global social media team for Gap Inc. and eventually returned to Houston to start her consultancy, KWH Creative. Nikitaidis became director of communications at Nextdoor, in the early days of the app, and vice president at The OutCast Agency in San Francisco before relaunching her company as CMN PR & Consulting in 2020.

Nikitaidis and Humphries met in New York years ago and have worked together in the past. Photo courtesy of All You Need Method

When the coronavirus started, the two women realized that small businesses were struggling more than ever. They set out to create tools for the early-stage entrepreneur and even business owners reassessing their plans in the wake of 2020's hardships.

"There are so many businesses that are pre-PR agency or even pre-consulting services that just need a little bit of help. They don't need a $5,000 or $10,000 monthly retainer — what they need is some strategic guidance," says Nikitaidis.

All You Need Method seeks to democratize access to media for solopreneurs on a budget.

"We're not anti-PR agency," Nikitaidis stressed. "We just think that the system and how it's kind of set up right now is broken."

Traditionally, publicists have been the conduit between brands and the media. Through press releases and pitches, communications professionals build relationships with reporters to help the brands they represent get media coverage. The Public Relations Journal even sought to investigate the role of PR gatekeepers in a 2011 study.

"If you think about how agency life has evolved, you used to have to go through an agency to have access to media. Now that the conversation is completely broken down — you don't need a third-party to have that conversation," continues Nikitaidis.

Before reaching out to the media or unveiling a product, Humphries believes you should have "core foundational pillars in place." The PR Starter Kit course guides our seven-step formula the two founders have used with their clients to help them stand out in a crowded media landscape. The course provides customized templates, a competitive analysis, content creation tips, and clarity on how to use integrated marketing to reach your business goals.

The PR Starter Kit includes approximately one hour of video training and worksheets that could take an estimated five hours to complete. The videos are broken up into segments so "you can go at your own pace" overtime, suggests Nikitaidis.

For a personalized approach, All You Need Method also offers one-hour strategy sessions via Zoom for $250. The consultation process answers PR and marketing questions pertaining to the brand's business, addresses individual pain points, and focuses on bonus goals.

"We're always trying to map back or help small business owners approach PR and marketing as something that's going to move their business goals forward," Nikitaidis added.

Building customer relationships and servicing your clients may sound like "Business 101," but Humphries finds that 2020 has shifted the needs of brand audiences and their lifestyles.

"I feel like a lot of small business owners have a vague idea of who their target audience is, but they haven't actually sat down and drilled down on all the details," explains Humphries.

Especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, consumer behavior has changed. She recommends understanding what they could most use from you right now based on your areas of expertise and your product or service.

The coronavirus isn't the only nationwide hardship that's forcing brands to reevaluate their content and values. Last May, the Black Lives Matter movement held protests across the country in the wake of George Floyd's murder. Conversations on racial justice and police brutality took place on the ground, in news outlets, and across social media platforms. While the movement was amplified on social platforms, some brands fumbled responses and social media statements that critics felt were inauthentic.

"There was just this total lack of awareness in terms of the different industries, specifically fashion and beauty. I hope that it was a big wake up call," says Nikitaidis, who emphasized All You Need Method's commitment to inclusivity. The company recently interviewed thought leader and marketer, Sonia Thompson, for tips on building an inclusive brand.

Inclusivity, and the messaging surrounding it, was a problem that existed long-before last summer and has continued on. From the Dallas-based mahjong brand that sparked a debate on cultural appropriation to the racial missteps of fashion brands, embracing inclusivity with half-hearted gestures has led brands to come under fire.

"I think a big part of being an inclusive brand and having it be authentic is relationship building and making sure that you're building relationships with a diverse audience and customers that don't look just like you," explains Humphries. She challenges people to make "a conscious effort to expand your circle and to make other people feel welcome."

From a global pandemic, political divisiveness, racial justice revolutions, the growing climate crisis, and an insurrection at the nation's Capitol, there's, well, a lot of events to consider when creating social media content.

To Nikitaidis, authenticity and consistency go a long way.

"Reevaluate your core values, and then make sure that you show up with intention in every single solitary thing that you post, that you put out there, and that it's consistent," she says. "If there is a cause that you really care about, and that really is a natural fit with your core values, then you become a thought leader in that space and it's not contrived."

While 2020 might have been a shock to the system for some, it also ushered in new platforms that the two believe could shape marketing's future.

Nikitaidis is excited about what Clubhouse, an audio-chat social networking app, could mean for the future of social platforms. She describes the app as a vibrant dinner party with your 10 coolest, most interesting contacts... except everyone can listen in.

The invitation-only app, which launched last April, features a variety of virtual rooms with conversations on topics like music, social media marketing, business, politics, dating, and more. The Verge likens it to "Medium for podcasts," while reporting on Elon Musk's debut on the chat platform.

"I think the podcast market is awesome but I think that's becoming a little oversaturated. I'm interested and excited to see where these other digital platforms are popping up and how people will be socializing or communicating or connecting in new ways," says Nikitaidis.

She also predicts a resurgence in the power of LinkedIn, the favored platform for business networking. After pitching an op-ed to The Cut and Huffington Post Women, her consulting client posted her piece to LinkedIn and amassed one million views in a two weeks span.

"There's such a huge opportunity and LinkedIn, especially for small business owners, where you're looking at who you know, and who wants to help, and you want to get out in front of your network first," says Nikitaidis.

Similarly, Humphries predicts the future of integrated marketing lies in storytelling.

"I think that brands will continue focusing on telling their own story and communicating with their audience directly through all of the channels that are relevant to them," she explained.

Regardless of what the future holds, communications can't be ignored in the present. " It's not a nice-to-have anymore — it's a must-have," explains Nikitaidis.

"Getting smart about PR, marketing, influencer marketing, influencer partnerships is one of the best business tools," says Nikitaidis. "It's just truly one of the best things you can do to grow your business as a small business owner."

What does your company plan on bringing into the new year — and how do you plan to communicate your efforts? Photo courtesy of All You Need Method

5 PR and marketing tips for Houston startups and small businesses in 2021

guest column

The past year has been a rollercoaster for small businesses. When the pandemic hit, every single person was affected. We've all had to pivot in some way either personally, professionally, or both.

As public relations and marketing professionals who specialize in working with small businesses, we've spent the last 10 months in the trenches with our clients, advising and helping business owners and entrepreneurs navigate these uncertain times. While small business revenue is down since January 2020, it's not all doom and gloom out there – we've seen many other businesses experience unexpected success and growth, and according to economists, we are entering the greatest entrepreneurial economy of our time.

And as we start this new year, there is no better time to invest in business growth and planning. Below are five tips to help you get started.

1. Get smart on your PR

Whether you know a little or a lot about public relations, marketing, and social media, take some time to get caught up on the current landscape. It is constantly changing, and having a better understanding of how traditional media, social media, paid marketing, owned content and all other components can benefit your business will inform decisions about where to allocate your time and resources.

First, assess what stage of business you are in as well as your business goals to determine what PR and marketing tools could be most beneficial to your growth at this time. Not all small businesses are prepared, financially or otherwise, to invest in PR, and there are fundamental steps you can do on your own to get your business positioned to succeed.

With online education booming, there are many free resources and tools at your disposal. We created All You Need Method to simplify PR and marketing for small business owners. You can download our Free PR Roadmap on our website to assess what level of PR support is right for your business. We also created The PR Starter Kit online course to give small business owners the fundamental tools they need to use PR, marketing, and social media to support business growth and build a lasting brand – and it only takes a few hours to complete.

2. Revisit your target audience

The world has changed significantly over the past year and so have the wants, needs, habits, and interests of consumers. As a small business, it's imperative to understand your target audience's current problems in order to relate to them, build trust, and deliver a product or service that is meeting their needs.

Before investing time and financial resources creating and executing a 2021 business plan, take a step back and consider your ideal customer. Outline how the past year has created opportunities or challenges in their life, problems they are facing, new shopping habits, lifestyle shifts, communication preferences, concerns, etc. If you have more than one ideal customer, work through this exercise for each.

With this new perspective, you will be equipped to make business decisions through the lens of how you can better serve your customers, rather than how to increase revenue.

3. Stand for something

Brands that are succeeding today are the brands that are authentic, vulnerable, and that stand for something. According to a global study by Zeno Group in July 2020, consumers are 4 to 6 times more likely to purchase and champion purpose-driven companies.

Having a purpose doesn't require a brand to have a philanthropy component or an outspoken political stance – it's about identifying your specific values and making them apparent through your messaging and leadership within your industry. Values could include committing to sustainable production methods, outstanding customer service, commitment to diversity, or supporting a specific cause. What is most important is that your values are authentic and that you can stand behind them long-term.

As the founder/owner of a small business, you have an opportunity to put a face and values behind the brand so that your company is about more than selling something.

4. Clarify your message

After revisiting your target audience and carefully considering your brand values, incorporate those findings into your messaging. Conduct an audit of your website, social media channels, and all external facing materials, and update your messaging to ensure that if your ideal customer had a 30 second encounter with your brand, they would walk away with your most important messaging points. Important points to consider as you craft new messaging include:

  • How your product or service solves a problem for or benefits your target audience
  • Brand values
  • Points of differentiation

5. Be authentic and communicative

Before the days of social media, a brand had to rely on third parties, including editorials and ads in magazines and newspapers, to spread the word about their brand. Social media and all "owned channels," including a brand's website, blog, and newsletter, have leveled the playing field and allow small business owners to have control over their communication with customers. Through your owned channels, a brand can decide what to post and when, which is incredibly valuable.

While securing press and advertising opportunities is valuable to growth and brand awareness, it's largely outside of one's control. Focus your time and financial resources on communicating with your audience by creating content for your owned channels. Creating content and posting consistently can seem overwhelming to a solopreneur or small team, but there are ways to make it manageable:

  • Pick only a few owned channels to focus on, prioritizing platforms you are most familiar with using and where your audience is most active
  • Quality and consistency are more important than quantity. If you're only posting once a week due to bandwidth, commit to that frequency and increase frequency as you are able
  • To inspire and inform content creation, think about how you can serve your customers through your areas of expertise and what is relevant to both your brand and audience (events, holidays, partnerships, new product launches, etc.)
  • Create a content calendar so that you can plan out posts a month in advance to avoid last minute scrambling to decide what to post

Once you've worked through these five tips, make a plan to support your business goals - and start thinking in two phases.

  • Phase 1: Pandemic Home Stretch - Although there is hope with a COVID-19 vaccine, we know we will likely be dealing with the effects indefinitely. Use this time of uncertainty to get your business in the best shape possible.
  • Phase 2: Post Pandemic - How do you want your business or brand to show up when the world opens back up? It feels far off, but it is closer than you think and there is a huge opportunity for those who are willing to put in the work now.

Remember, these challenging times will pass. There is massive opportunity for the businesses and brands who are willing to reflect, pivot, and plan for a brighter future.

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Kathryn Worsham Humphries and Carla M. Nikitaidis are the co-creators of Houston-based All You Need Method, a PR and marketing resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

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Health tech startup launches Houston study improve stroke patients recovery

now enrolling

A Houston-born company is enrolling patients in a study to test the efficacy of nerve stimulation to improve outcomes for stroke survivors.

Dr. Kirt Gill and Joe Upchurch founded NeuraStasis in 2021 as part of the TMC Biodesign fellowship program.

“The idea for the company manifested during that year because both Joe and I had experiences with stroke survivors in our own lives,” Gill tells InnovationMap. It began for Gill when his former college roommate had a stroke in his twenties.

“It’s a very unpredictable, sudden disease with ramifications not just for my best friend but for everyone in his life. I saw what it did to his family and caregivers and it's one of those things that doesn't have as many solutions for people to continue recovery and to prevent damage and that's an area that I wanted to focus myself on in my career,” Gill explains.

Gill and Upchurch arrived at the trigeminal and vagus nerves as a potential key to helping stroke patients. Gill says that there is a growing amount of academic literature that talks about the efficacy of stimulating those nerves. The co-founders met Dr. Sean Savitz, the director of the UTHealth Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, during their fellowship. He is now their principal investigator for their clinical feasibility study, located at his facility.

The treatment is targeted for patients who have suffered an ischemic stroke, meaning that it’s caused by a blockage of blood flow to the brain.

“Rehabilitation after a stroke is intended to help the brain develop new networks to compensate for permanently damaged areas,” Gill says. “But the recovery process typically slows to essentially a standstill or plateau by three to six months after that stroke. The result is that the majority of stroke survivors, around 7.6 million in the US alone, live with a form of disability that prevents complete independence afterwards.”

NeuraStasis’ technology is intended to help patients who are past that window. They accomplish that with a non-invasive brain-stimulation device that targets the trigeminal and vagus nerves.

“Think of it kind of like a wearable headset that enables stimulation to be delivered, paired to survivors going through rehabilitation action. So the goal here is to help reinforce and rewire networks as they're performing specific tasks that they're looking to improve upon,” Gill explains.

The study, which hopes to enroll around 25 subjects, is intended to help people with residual arm and hand deficits six months or more after their ischemic stroke. The patients enrolled will receive nerve stimulation three times a week for six weeks. It’s in this window that Gill says he hopes to see meaningful improvement in patients’ upper extremity deficits.

Though NeuraStasis currently boasts just its two co-founders as full-time employees, the company is seeing healthy growth. It was selected for a $1.1 million award from the National Institutes of Health through its Blueprint MedTech program. The award was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The funding furthers NeuraStasis’ work for two years, and supports product development for work on acute stroke and for another product that will aid in emergency situations.

Gill says that he believes “Houston has been tailor-made for medical healthcare-focused innovation.”

NeuraStasis, he continues, has benefited greatly from its advisors and mentors from throughout the TMC, as well as the engineering talent from Rice, University of Houston and Texas A&M. And the entrepreneur says that he hopes that Houston will benefit as much from NeuraStasis’ technology as the company has from its hometown.

“I know that there are people within the community that could benefit from our device,” he says.

Texas Space Commission launches, Houston execs named to leadership

future of space

Governor Greg Abbott announced the Texas Space Commission, naming its inaugural board of directors and Texas Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium Executive Committee.

The announcement came at NASA's Johnson Space Center, and the governor was joined by Speaker Dade Phelan, Representative Greg Bonnen, Representative Dennis Paul, NASA's Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche, and various aerospace industry leaders.

According to a news release, the Texas Space Commission will aim to strengthen commercial, civil, and military aerospace activity by promoting innovation in space exploration and commercial aerospace opportunities, which will include the integration of space, aeronautics, and aviation industries as part of the Texas economy.

The Commission will be governed by a nine-member board of directors. The board will also administer the legislatively created Space Exploration and Aeronautics Research Fund to provide grants to eligible entities.

“Texas is home to trailblazers and innovators, and we have a rich history of traversing the final frontier: space,” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says in a news release. “Texas is and will continue to be the epicenter for the space industry across the globe, and I have total confidence that my appointees to the Texas Space Commission Board of Directors and the Texas Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium Executive Committee will ensure the Texas space industry remains an international powerhouse for cutting-edge space innovation.”

TARSEC will independently identify research opportunities that will assist the state’s position in aeronautics research and development, astronautics, space commercialization, and space flight infrastructure. It also plans to fuel the integration of space, aeronautics, astronautics, and aviation industries into the Texas economy. TARSEC will be governed by an executive committee and will be composed of representatives of each higher education institution in the state.

“Since its very inception, NASA’s Johnson Space Center has been home to manned spaceflight, propelling Texas as the national leader in the U.S. space program,” Abbott says during the announcement. “It was at Rice University where President John F. Kennedy announced that the U.S. would put a man on the moon—not because it was easy, but because it was hard.

"Now, with the Texas Space Commission, our great state will have a group that is responsible for dreaming and achieving the next generation of human exploration in space," he continues. "Texas is the launchpad for Mars, innovating the technology that will colonize humanity’s first new planet. As we look into the future of space, one thing is clear: those who reach for the stars do so from the great state of Texas. I look forward to working with the Texas Space Commission, and I thank the Texas Legislature for partnering with industry and higher education institutions to secure the future of Texas' robust space industry."

The Houston-area board of directors appointees included:

  • Gwen Griffin, chief executive officer of the Griffin Communications Group
  • John Shannon, vice president of Exploration Systems at the Boeing Company
  • Sarah "Sassie" Duggleby, co-founder and CEO of Venus Aerospace
  • Kirk Shireman, vice president of Lunar Exploration Campaigns at Lockheed Martin
  • Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg, director of the Texas A&M Space Institute

Additionally, a few Houstonians were named to the TARSEC committee, including:

  • Stephanie Murphy, CEO and executive chairman of Aegis Aerospace
  • Matt Ondler, president and former chief technology officer at Axiom Space
  • Jack “2fish” Fischer, vice president of production and operations at Intuitive Machines
  • Brian Freedman, president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and vice chairman of Wellby Financial
  • David Alexander, professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Rice Space Institute at Rice University

To see the full list of appointed board and committee members, along with their extended bios, click here.