A few days ago, I was the only one in the Communications office for a few hours, because most of my co-workers were at a meeting at the Italian Embassy. As I was working, the phone rang. I usually don’t answer this number because it rings through to all of the other phones in the office as well and one person in particular usually answers that number.
But I was the only one there, so I of course I answered it, “Communications.”
It was a reporter from the Christian Science Monitor. “I’m hoping you can help me, I’m working on an article about the Curiosity rover and I’d really like to speak with someone about NASA’s benefits from the Curiosity mission.”
This is usually the point at which I say “I’m going to transfer you to the head of media relations” and then it’s out of my hands. But like I said, I was alone in the office. As I was trying to figure out what I should do: if I should take a message, email the appropriate person who handled media requests or just transfer him to her voicemail when he said “my deadline is 4pm.” It was a little before 2 at this point and I knew they wouldn’t be back for at least an hour. So I took his information and told him I’d try to get someone to give him a call. But where to start? I’d never done this before and I honestly didn’t even know what the protocol was.
So I spent the next 10 minutes running around the museum asking different people who was the expert in NASA and the Curiosity and sent from one Space History intern to a Space History curator who sent me to a CEPS scientist who sent me to the next office over to another CEPS scientist. Luckily, he was willing to give the reporter a call.
It was a bit of a whirlwind half hour or so but it was fun problem-solving and conquering this on my own. And luckily, when my co-worker got back she told me that I had handled it correctly.