Case | HBS Case Collection | August 1990

NASA After Challenger: Restoring an Image

by Stephen A. Greyser and Norman Klein

Abstract

In the days following the loss of the space shuttle Challenger and its crew in January of 1986, NASA officials were unwilling to communicate with the media or the public. A siege mentality took hold, and the press and public responded with intense criticism and inquiry. The case describes NASA's harmonious relationship with the media before Challenger, and the many obstacles William Sheehan faced when he stepped in to attempt to restore NASA's image and relationship with the media after Challenger. The issues include the special problems faced by a public institution with a history of poor internal communication, and the compounded difficulties of attempting to create effective internal policy while also trying to restore credibility with the media and deal with investigative probes.

Keywords: Communication Strategy; Policy; Business and Community Relations; Situation or Environment; Conflict Management;

Citation:

Greyser, Stephen A., and Norman Klein. "NASA After Challenger: Restoring an Image." Harvard Business School Case 591-009, August 1990.