Practical Tips for PR Professionals: Internet Memes












September 2011

Most of us have come across a "meme" or two. (Sad Keanu, Schrute Facts and even the concept of online "spam" are just a few that come to mind.) Whether they take the form of a catchy tune, hashtag, video, link, phrase, advertisement or some other concept, Internet memes are becoming the new sound bites and quickly shaping communications and culture.

Below are four things you need to know about Internet memes and how to incorporate these nuggets of viral gold into your marketing and PR strategy.

1. Have a purpose. Just like word of mouth marketing, memes "give people a reason to talk about your products and services, and make it easier for the conversation to take place," confirms a post on the Multi–Click Marketing blog. The most successful memes are memorable and have the "ability to alter human behavior," notes Jay Conrad Levinson in this article about "Guerrilla Marketing Memes."

2. Make use of popular trends. Traditional marketing messages don't always translate well into memes and can lose effectiveness. So, try tying your campaign to an existing meme, as long as it is relevant. Zachary Sniderman,, provides several examples of "How Non-Profits are Tapping Internet Memes & Pop Culture " such as the use of #tigerblood in a tweet from The Red Cross.

3. Let memes develop naturally. Some of the most successful concepts or phrases take time to build and flow throughout the masses organically. For example, "Werther's Original " — as in the international brand for the popular German candies — is one meme that has taken off in unexpected ways, with adaptations of the concept appearing in Japanese commercials, anime, and in Star Wars.

4. Empower and engage your community. The Old Spice Man started off in a series of owned and paid TV ads and online videos and has now evolved into earned media, including spoof videos and voice messaging services, which are now re-tweeted by Old Spice. As explained in this article on, "By its definition, a meme cannot be restricted to one form of media... Like all other memes, ones that are popular on or relevant to the Internet or Internet culture are transmitted through people and exist in the minds of individuals."

BottomLine: The holy grail of PR and marketing is holistic communications that transcend all media channels. Memes are making it easier and more fun to share and replicate ideas across a wide variety of traditional and social media. To get your messages across in a viral world, you need to first know the trends and conversations taking place in your industry and niche markets. Look to BurrellesLuce WorkFlow to help you research your target audiences and capture and understand how your coverage is playing out in The Media.

About BurrellesLuce

BurrellesLuce is the U.S. leader in media monitoring. Professionals in a wide range of industries rely on our comprehensive curated content from local and national print, online, broadcast, and social media sources. BurrellesLuce has a turnkey copyright compliance program that allows us to provide copyright-compliant, behind-the-paywall content not available to other services. BurrellesLuce combines grade-A content with easy-to-use software, allowing users to evaluate and analyze their media coverage and PR efforts. It's all integrated into our user-friendly interface, BurrellesLuce WorkFlow™.

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