Have you seen the WestJet “Real Time Giving” video yet? If you have, I know you want to watch it again. If you haven’t, you really must. Either way, here it is:
As of this writing, the video has been viewed more than 19 million times since its release earlier this week, and I think it’s safe to say that this is just a start.
As totally lovable as the video is, however, it’s not the subject of my adoration this week. That honor is reserved for the press release the WestJet team used to promote the video, seeding the media coverage and social visibility that triggered viral sharing.
Like the kid who circles everything in the catalog, the West Jet had the waterfront covered, creating a variety of visual assets, and wrapping them into a fully loaded press release.
A press release about promotional video? Yes. The team deftly used paid media to promote their owned media, resulting in an earned media avalanche, with pick up in USA Today, the Today Show, Mashable, Huffington Post and Forbes, to name just a handful of outlets running the story.
Promoting content via a newswire service like PR Newswire (or, in this case, our sister company up north, Canada Newswire,) to promote owned content may strike some PR people as strange. However, it’s a tactic that has proven to work well for the content marketing crowd, who don’t blanch at the idea of marketing their marketing.
Using a newswire to promote content delivers a variety of benefits, including:
- Reaching a larger audience. When you distribute content online via PR Newswire, for example, it is re-posted on thousands of web sites, exposing the message instantly to new audiences.
- Seeding social interactions. Search engines weigh social interactions heavily in their algorithms, and sparking a spate of tweets or a bevy of +1s can give content a significant boost in search rankings — as well as reaching an expanding audience and setting the stage for viral growth.
- Capitalizing on the opportunity to earn some media, while you’re at it. The WestJet video is a great case in point. The video itself isn’t terribly newsworthy, however, its popularity is. WestJet was beautifully prepared for that possibility, distributing related images and several other videos, including a blooper reel and a more serious interview with Richard Bartrem, the company’s vice president of communications and community relations, in which he spoke about the inspiration and logistics behind the airline’s second annual holiday surprise video.
According to Todd Wheatland’s Content Marketing World presentation earlier this year, most viral videos have been given a big leg up through paid promotion. If you want your video to go viral, Wheatland said, first you need to be certain that it is fantastic. The next step? Buying some promotion. And distribution of the content via PR Newswire is a fast, efficient and cost-effective mechanism for driving the content into new audiences and seeding social visibility – the foundations of viral spread of content.
So kudos to the WestJet team on job very well done, and thanks for brightening our day. This is truly content we love!
Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the newly-published ebook Driving Content Discovery. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.
A sampling of the media coverage:
NPR: Must Cry Video? Watch WestJet Airline’s ‘Christmas Miracle’
Forbes: The Real ‘Christmas Miracle’ of WestJet’s Viral Video: Millions in Free Advertising
New York Daily News: WestJet Airlines Surprises Passengers With Gifts After They Touch Down From Flights
Buzzfeed: This WestJet Christmas Miracle Will Make Your Day
Huffington Post: WestJet Finds Out What Passengers Want For Christmas, Leaves Presents at Baggage Claim