The “Old” Meaning of Going Viral

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We used to laugh when prospective clients would tell us “they wanted to be on Oprah” or “on the front page of the Wall St. Journal,” usually right after we told them we were not the right agency for them.

That prospective-client thinking then evolved into “we want our video to go viral.”  Our response was the same.

There are things you can do to push along the popularity of a social media post but setting out with plans for it to go viral are absurd.

With no live sporting events on TV, I find myself watching more shows on Netflix and on networks other than ESPN.  I was recently watching the critically acclaimed sitcom “Schitt’s Creek.” In this particular episode, Moira Rose was walking the champagne-colored carpet in advance of a movie “premier.”  The fictional movie, “The Crows Have Eyes 3, The Crowening,” was to resurrect her has-been acting career.

Moira’s daughter, Alexis, was the unqualified, self-appointed publicist for the reddish-carpet event.  Part of her plan for visuals was to release an actual flock of black crows as the guests paraded in.   When the birds were unleashed, the surprised crowd reacted in a minor-panic as the black crows swooped in and around them, essentially ruining the event.

This is where social media turned a wild flock of black crows into blackberry pie.  The video was so entertaining that it did, in fact, go viral.  To prove that media coverage can have more than one life and multiple platforms for display, the area’s popular TV show, “Morning Live With Barb and Lizzie,” had both Moira and Alexis on the next day to talk about “the crow attack.”

In a demonstration of controlling the message during the live interview, Moira called it a “PR coup d'é·tat” and a “well-orchestrated PR stunt” to promote the movie.  The social media post generated over 2 million views for “Interflix.”

While all of this is fictional, it does demonstrate how paying attention to the media and understanding what makes for good TV enabled this story to live through more than one news cycle and take on a life of its own while going viral.

Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
President Scott is president of HMA Public Relations and a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network. He’s a Phoenix native, husband, father of two and a fan of all sports and a participant in some. Check out Scott's full bio

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