Earlier this week on March 23, a devastating tornado swept through Hempfield Township (Greensburg), PA – a community about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Young 15-year-old Tyler Tubbs’ first person account is now sweeping the internet with remixes and parodies. His video of the tornado has nearly 200K YouTube views and has earned national acclaim and coverage via media channels such as CNN. And today, Pittsburgh’s “Tornado Boy” is now being compared to “Double Rainbow Guy” with over 1 million views!

The tornado left in its wake widespread destruction. And, while several families lost their homes, thankfully no one died and injuries were minor.

It’s easy to laugh now at Tyler’s hysterics because no one died or was seriously injured.  And, it’s especially funny to me as a Pittsburgher because his “Pittsburghese” comes shining through loud and clear! You got to love it!

OK, since this is a Marketing Blog and not the Weather Channel, what can marketer’s learn from Tyler’s ordeal? Well, here are five marketing lessons you can take away from Tyler’s experience to more effectively tell your brand’s story.

  1. Communicate with authenticity, transparent honesty and enthusiasm – Tyler was ‘in the moment!’ You feel his amazement, excitement, fear and heartfelt storytelling.  His repetitive “tornado” announcements and varying pitch of his voice reinforced his message.
  2. Always show and tell – Adding video to a story always adds more drama than simply reading a story in print with no visuals and adds to the experience.
  3. Publish now – Don’t hesitate with new news. Tyler didn’t wait to add music, supers, slick transitions or even edit the film to make it a mini movie of the week.  He immediately published and reaped the rewards of viewership. How many of us wait until something is perfect before we launch only to find that others have caught up to us and the parade passed us by?
  4. Always be prepared – Tyler had his camera with him and immediately acted. I’m sure 95% of all the folks in Hempfield had a cell phone camera of some sort, but they did not act – if they did, they certainly did not move as fast as Tyler.
  5. Get key influentials/networks to spread your viral effort – This isn’t quite true for Tyler – yet – but when Jimmy Kimmel tweeted Double Rainbow Guy’s video, his views took off!

We can’t expect to have a key influential like Jimmy Kimmel spread our good word, but today – with social media dominating  just about everyone’s lives these days and tools such as Facebook and Twitter making it so easy to spread news via our own networks of a few hundred friends and family – nearly everyone is more influential than we were 5-10 years ago making good news travel amazingly fast!

Remember that you are an influential and to publish NOW!