Public Outreach Specialist for NASA’s Mars Program

We like to recognize our featured guest at our monthly Dicho y Hecho Happy Hour Mixer. To get to know our guest we ask them a few questions. Below are a few things we learned about Linda Rivera:


What is the one thing you enjoy most about your job?

In terms of the location, I love that every day is different. One day, you can see Brad Pitt in the hall, the next, Snoopy in the cafeteria. Mainly, I love that I get to talk to the public about all of NASA’s missions to Mars and why they’re important. With storytelling, I help simplify the science so they can relate to it and care about it. Storytelling is no easy feat. It takes creativity and a deep understanding of human emotion, but I love the power it has. My goal is to touch everyone on a personal level. People of all ages and all walks of life. In my role, I help inspire the young, and remind the young-at-heart that it’s never too late to pursue a dormant dream.

How did your career in PR lead you to become a Public Outreach Specialist for NASA’s Mars Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory?

“Public Outreach” in the NASA world equates to marketing. We just don’t call it that because it might be misunderstood as the agency trying to “sell” something to the public. You can’t sell something to people that have already paid for it (i.e. taxpayers). Therefore, I’m a marketing specialist with a slightly different title. I started my PR career doing internships (VPE Tradigital Communications was my favorite!), then grew into an Assistant Account Executive role (shout out to Sportivo and ROX United for taking a chance on me). Then, I was asked to implement PR as a new branch of communications at a French bakery franchise as a PR Manager. If there’s one thing PR agencies have taught me is that all clients are unique, but the heart of PR is essentially the same. There is hard work, strategy, out-of-the-box thinking, and goals at the root of it all. This is how I convinced myself that if I could do this work for clients like Nike, Red Bull, and Disney, I could also do it for NASA. I think my role is a great reminder to all PR and communication professionals that every business, in every line of work, needs professionals like us. The work we do is important, even in fields you may not expect, like space exploration.

What is your #1 networking advice for those new to PR/Communications?

Be the first to arrive and the last to leave. Besides just being on time, be present. Put your phone away, practice good listening and put in the hard work. Be proactive. Ask to take on more work than is given to you or volunteer for tasks no one else wants to do but are important to do. Show your supervisors that you care and that you want to be there.

Who inspires you? And why?

Working mothers inspire me. They sacrifice a lot and are spread very thin. They want to be good mothers, but also, want to be good partners, employees, sisters, daughters, and friends, etc. All while trying to squeeze in time for self-care and to keep their homes and lives together. They are selfless, incredibly strong, master multi-taskers, independent, and all-around talented, in more ways than one. I don’t think society gives them the praise they deserve. I have great admiration for them.