assignment viral video

Every PR writing class touches on how to write PSAs, VNRs, radio scripts and other audio / video material. But when was the last time a real practitioner wrote a PSA? And if she did, how much impact did it really have?

Viral video is the new PSA. Only it’s cool. And people watch them. Then share them. Viral, get it?

So this reality meets my continued effort to integrate social media assignments into traditional classes and a new project is born.

This semester I’m charging my PR writing students (1st semester in the major) with creating videos that have the potential to go viral. You can’t make a viral video – the viewers make it viral. But you can create a video with the potential to go viral.

I partnered with a very willing client on campus, University Admissions. The videos will aim to showcase the campus for prospective UGA students. Admissions agreed to use the videos (any number they chose) they think will best help in their efforts. As a bonus, I’ll award extra credit for every video Admissions choses to use. Additionally, we’ll have a viral contest & the video with the most views at the end of the semester will get another dose of extra credit.

The students will have a month to create the videos. I will provide the video (flip) cam, but they need to work through how to edit it themselves. A week after we talk about the project in class, each team has to turn in a story board.

Ready to find out how I plan to do it? Here we go.

Plan, shoot, edit and create a short video with the potential to “go viral” about the University of Georgia. The client for this project is University of Georgia Admissions Office. The video targets high school seniors (but appropriate for parents), and could be used as a recruitment tool for UGA. Students will work in teams of three each and have a month to complete the mulit-phase project. A story board outlining the concept, general script and scenes is due in class in one week.  Completed video is due in one month. Each member in the team receives the same grade earned for the video.  This project is worth 10% of the overall grade.

Technical Notes

  • Flip video cameras loan available from professor – remember the rest of the teams need them too (plan)
  • Length must be between 1-4 minutes (no more, no less)
  • Obscene material prohibited – push the envelope but keep in mind the public relations purpose of video
  • Prominently mention/show UGA so viewers know what the video is about if unfamiliar with UGA
  • Credits somewhere in the video must list all the names of the team members
  • Any music or material used must be done so legally (permission from artist) – provide credit for work used
    o Review Creative Commons licenses on images on Flickr or other image sites
    o Find music at, and
  • Turn in all files – the exported .mov/.avi file plus the source file (e.g., iMovie file) if appropriate
  • Write a short description and provide key words to accompany video when it goes on YouTube


  • Understand the audience – inside jokes are good, but not so much if it leaves majority out
  • Be informational while entertaining, consider a humorous or musical approach
  • Use other videos as inspiration, but do not completely copy content or concept
  • Save and back-up all project files often

Turning the Video In
Write the video files to a CD ROM. If the team used a video editing program to edit the video, the team should turn in that project (e.g., iMovie) file as well on the disk. The disk must have the final movie exported as a .mov or .avi. The short description and key words should be on the CD ROM in a text file.

Sample Viral Videos
There is no “right way” to do this project. Be creative. Do it well.

Popular viral videos can inspire (not copy):

Bonus Opportunity
Each video will be posted on YouTube channel.  UGA Admissions will review the videos, and the creators of each video they select to use in recruitment efforts will receive .25 bonus on top of their final class grade.  There will also be a class competition, with the winners determined on the last day of class. The video that receives the most views on YouTube by the last day of class will get +2 points of adjustment to the viral video project grade. The video in second place with the second most number of views will get a +1 point adjustment to the viral video project grade.

3 Responses so far.

  1. kaye says:

    Paull Young shared this link with me via twitter & I wanted to include it here – great viral vid aimed at college students:

  2. Megan says:

    I am a Sophomore majoring in Public Relations @ American University in DC, and I came across a local company, GeniusRocket, that uses crowd sourcing and user generated video for actual company’s use. It’s a great way to link up with other creative people and get some “real experience,” by getting your work out there. If nothing else, GeniusRocket an xLNTads have really interesting business models an show the shift towards the use of new media for PR.

  3. […] probably know all about the assignment I gave my PR writing students where I asked them to make a video that has the potential to go viral. Cool assignment. They are knee deep in shooting & […]

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