Using Viral Videos for the Greater Good

Late Night Talk Show Host, Jimmy Kimmel used YouTube to show the world how powerful a viral video can be. The video, “Worst Twerking Fail Ever- Girl Catches Fire”, was created by a stuntwoman and quickly went viral with over 14 million hits. It even received coverage by news stations and more buzz after Kimmel revealed that the video was fake. Kimmel’s video showed how quickly and efficiently viral videos can resonate with audiences and spread like wildfire. But what if videos like this were used for a greater cause?

Dégagé Ministries, a non-profit organization, strategically used YouTube and online fundraising this Veteran’s Day to make a lasting impression and raise awareness about poverty and homelessness experienced by veterans. The organization created a video called “Homeless Veteran Timelapse Transformation” that showcased the inspirational transformation of Jim Wolf, U.S. Army veteran who struggled with poverty, alcoholism and homelessness. The video presents Wolf as a scraggly, solemn looking man. However, he receives a complete makeover with new hair, new clothes and a completely new attitude. The most powerful moment of the video occurs when Wolf sees himself in the mirror for the first time. Something as small as receiving a haircut and a lot of compassion was enough for Jim Wolf to turn his life around. According to the video, Wolf now attends Alcohols Anonymous meetings and started his search for affordable housing.

This video now has over 13 million hits on YouTube in only one week. Dégagé Ministries started using youcaring.com, a website that allows companies to do free online fundraising and have donors easily pledge money, to accompany their now viral video. In just a week of setting up the online fundraiser, Dégagé Ministries has almost achieved their goal of $30,000. After receiving such positive feedback, they will surely surpass it.

Such a rapid spread of the campaign emphasizes the true power and reach of viral videos. Dégagé Ministries strategically utilized promotional tactics and used public relations practices for a greater cause. Although the organization caters to any homeless or impoverished members of the community, by focusing on veterans so close to Veteran’s Day it motivated viewers to take action and donate now. This use of public relations has so far shown a huge increase in awareness for the social issue as well as the strength and power a viral videos possesses.

By: Jennie Osber

Jennie is a junior, mass communication major with minors in psychology and advertising. Along with PRSSA-UD, she is a member of the National Service Sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma as well as University of Delaware Alternative Spring Breaks (UDaB). She hopes to pursue a career in the advertising or public relations fields.

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