Journalists are bombarded with PR pitches every day. But one that arrived in my inbox earlier this month caught my attention.
It was the day after the Denver Broncos won their first playoff game since 2005. “Grammy nominated singer-songwriter John Parr modifies his number 1 hit song ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ to ‘Tim Tebow’s Fire,’ wrote Parr’s U.S. publicist, Barbara Terry, who attached an MP3 to her email. “Please take a listen and enjoy the new and modified lyrics. You have my permission to use this song as you like.”
Being a child of the 1980s, a fan of Parr’s original hit, and mired in relentless coverage of the Broncos’ popular, yet polarizing quarterback, I couldn’t resist.
Given Tebow’s appeal, which extends far beyond the realm of football, I knew instantly that “Tim Tebow’s Fire” was going to be a hit. But I didn’t know how many media outlets had received the MP3, so I wanted to make sure we were the first to publish it.
Within an hour we had received a quote from Parr explaining why he chose to essentially parody his own song and permission from Terry to post the song on our station’s YouTube channel.
We were now ready to unleash “Tim Tebow’s Fire” on the world.
We first posted a story on FOX31 Denver’s Web site, KDVR.com, and included the YouTube embed code. Next, we posted links on our Facebook page and Twitter feed — several links over several hours, actually.
With nearly 70,000 Facebook fans — the most of any Denver television station — it didn’t take long before the link started to spread via shares, likes, comments and re-tweets.
By the end of the day, the YouTube video had received several thousand views. The following day, the number climbed into the tens of thousands, and a very thankful Parr told us he was getting bombarded with requests for interviews.
As of this writing, “Tim Tebow’s Fire” has received roughly 839,000 YouTube views. Parr’s song has been featured on Conan O’Brien, MSNBC, ABC News, CNN-Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, The Jim Rome Show and NPR, just to name a few.
The vast majority of online articles include the video embed code and/or links to the YouTube page; John Parr’s Wikipedia page also now includes a link to KDVR.com.
It may seem counter-intuitive to post this video on YouTube rather than upload it to our Web site. After all, we’re trying to sell preroll ad impressions.
But from my perspective, YouTube was the only way to go. It is already a proven vehicle for spreading viral video and, since the song isn’t ours, we wanted to respect that and maintain some distance.
But there were other key factors too.
Parr’s management wanted a link to his official Web site where fans could download the MP3, which was easy to include in the YouTube description. The description also left space for a link back to our original story on KDVR.com, which has proven to be a great source of referral traffic.
And last, but not least important, our television station group is in the process of switching content management systems and we needed to ensure the link to the song survives the transition.
Tim Tebow’s playoff run may be over, but his career is just getting started. We hope and expect “Tim Tebow’s Fire” to generate clicks for quite some time.
If only viral content like this fell into our laps every day.
Marc Sternfield is Executive Producer for Digital Media at FOX31 Denver.