How I Got My Story To Go Viral

OK, so I’m in marketing and getting a story to go viral should be easy right? Seems like many  people not in marketing and possibly even not desiring their story to go viral, are very successful at indeed getting their stories to spread like a Colorado wildfire.

The main ingredient is of course an image. Video is tops. Mine was a still image. However, my image was similar to a story that had gone viral a few weeks prior. (By the way, viral for me is making the national evening news.) Ideally it would have also made into Yahoo’s top searches but alas, I wasn’t tracking this.

A few weeks prior to my cousin’s wedding, a couple in Kansas made the evening news when a tornado made it into their wedding ceremony video. Similarly, an uninvited guest attended my cousin’s wedding Saturday night. He was young, 300 pounds, and likely very hungry. This wedding crasher was a black bear.

Wedding Crashing Bear
Hungry wedding crasher!

Monday – I called my cousin and his bride to ensure I had their permission to push the story. I called my Aunt & Uncle, and the bride’s mother for their permission. I emailed a number of local newspapers via their news submission pages, not attaching the photo, but telling them I had great images of the bear. I left a message for the wedding’s professional photographer. I also emailed CBS, NBC, the Huffington Post, and the Colorado Department of Tourism.

Tuesday, I heard from Melinda Mawdsley at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. She wanted to see the images. The Colorado Department of Tourism also replied to say they would like to see the images and possibly use them if needed.

Wednesday, I hear from Melinda again saying she’d be interested in the story and needs more information. I respond to her email with my images attached, and mentioned that I was hoping to send her the professional’s images but he has not replied.

Thursday Melinda talks to the parents to get some quotes.

Friday morning the article runs in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. By noon Melinda calls me to ask if the local news channel can use my photo. By 1 PM Melinda calls to request that I contact the image guy at NBC news.

I called the NBC guy who gave me his email address. I sent him the photos and gave NBC permission to use them. Friday evening – NBC Evening News – Brian Williams says my cousin’s name and that of his new bride, covering the shaggy wedding guest story.

How my story went viral.
Neal & Anna with the shaggy guest in the background, as covered by Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News.