Viral Videos, the Next New Thing in PR?

God, I hope not!

In the PR Squared blog by Todd Defren done this past Friday, viral marketing was the topic of the day. This link will take you too the site, PR Squared-Viral Videos. As stated in the blog, this latest craze seems to be the way to go for movies and other new media. However, it leaves something to be desired as far as ethics goes.

The fact that he carried on a relationship for 3 months with this girl, built up this idea in her head and even went as far as meeting her parents and have her start hinting about marriage–is that really ok? I know this is not real, but I have seen other viral videos and people do whatever they can to get people to watch them and get hits. Sites like and have become hotbeds of activity for the latest great Internet video.

I know in class we are being exposed to the various new online media outlets, but if this is truly where PR is headed, then I am slightly nervous. I understand that this is satirical, but people already negatively connote our industry at times–labeling us as spin-doctors. I definitely do not think that using media in this way is going to positively affect our image. What is the point of hiring someone with a PR degree if anyone can just post videos and market and promote something? I guess people already can do this, but it is our degree and knowledge that gives us the edge? But if we start resorting to viral media, then what is the point? We have “stooped” to the level of the amateur, so to speak.

–The Agency

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5 Responses to Viral Videos, the Next New Thing in PR?

  1. drgilpin says:

    (Proof this post.)

    I’m curious to see how others respond to this example of satire.

  2. lbridge says:

    Even though the ethics of viral marketing are questionable, there is some evidence that viral campaigns can be really successful depending on what is being marketed. For instance, the recent Batman move, The Dark Knight had a huge viral campaign that was extremely successful. Almost a year before the movie was released in theaters there was an online viral campaign that was kind of like a mock newscast and also other various mystery items on the website to keep people guessing and get them excited for the movie. The Dark Knight went on to gross over $500 mil to date. This kind of marketing obviously isn’t appropriate for every campaign, but this is just one example of it being very successful.

  3. bkranz says:

    I agree with Lauren. While viral videos are often an annoyance (as people send them to you all the time), they are also a great way to have a message reach the masses. In the case of the Dark Knight, they used videos as a tool to increase the hype about the movie, which ended up doing amazingly well. If the videos are crafted well and are used for beneficial purposes, there is no reason PR practitioners cannot use videos as a method of reaching their target audiences. VNRs are a popular form of communication therefore we already know that the video medium is used and accepted, so now the most important thing is to create videos that are ethical and are useful to companies and then we will be able to see the true affect of viral videos.

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  5. ksorensen19 says:

    I agree with those above me that viral marketing is definitely something that can be used successfully. While some may find it annoying, it is a great way to reach large masses of people with little effort. I think that the internet has continually played an increasing role in how public relations practitioners conduct their campaigns. While I don’t think that viral videos are necessarily the right move for every PR campaign, when used strategically I think they can aid a successful campaign. However, the issue for me in terms of viral marketing is how the outcome is measured. It is one thing to measure how many times a video on youtube is seen, however, what about all the times the video is seen by the same person twice…and what about users who email the video to others that are not measured?

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