Lessons in viral marketing from Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow

The latest athletes to become cultural phenomenon hold at least five lessons for PR professionals and marketers.

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Recently, two crossover sports stories have dominated mainstream media like nothing in recent memory: Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow.

Lin, a Taiwanese-American Harvard graduate from Palo Alto, Calif., has captivated the nation by leading the Knicks to eight wins in nine games.

As Pablo Torre writes in a recent Sports Illustrated article about Lin’s success:

“Nothing, anywhere, has ever resembled the ascendance of Jeremy Shu-How Lin, a legend seemingly pulled from the imagination of a goosefleshed [NBA commissioner] David Stern, if not Disney’s most hyperbolic global marketing exec.”

But before Lin, we were (and still are, actually) infatuated with Tim Tebow, the good-natured Florida native and unevenly talented quarterback who led the NFL’s Denver Broncos to an improbable succession of regular-season victories and an equally unlikely win in the first round of the playoffs.

But it’s the unrelenting hype surrounding both athletes that should intrigue PR pros, marketers, and communicators.

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