The Top 10 Viral Stories of 2014

gone viral

In the PRNewserverse, we enjoy a listicle like a Kardashian enjoys a TV camera — and there’s no better time to compile said lists than the very end of the year.

Another list that PR professionals may be interested concerns the top “news” stories amplified by social media in 2014. One hashtag, one trend, one video — that’s all it takes to put a tack strip on the information superhighway and completely derail the news cycle.

In no particular order, these stories were the tacks. Admit it: You know every one of these; you probably tweeted at least three of them.

We won’t tell.

Sexy Mugshot Felon Guy

sexy mugshot

Thanks to the police department of Stockton, California, 30-year-old Jeremy Meeks became famous when this mugshot went viral making lonely cat owners swoon. Never mind that dude was arrested for felony weapons charges and held on $1 million bail; it’s about the head shot.

Pharrell’s Hat:

Pharrell Williams and Helen Lasichanh arrive at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles

Sure, the guy is a musical wunderkind. Yes, he won a few awards at the Grammys almost a year ago. But that hat, man. That dopey, Dudley-Do-Right hat! Thanks to everyone flipping their own lid, Pharrell’s lid earned its own Twitter feed, owned the news cycle, created “fashion,” and gave Arby’s a reason to become relevant again in genius newsjacking fashion.

Street Harassment:

Shoshana Roberts did nothing but walk — and the man-like people she passed on the New York sidewalk came up with assorted forms of douchebaggery to get her attention. It didn’t work, but more than 38 million have watched those desperate attempts on YouTube. It’s hard to tell what is worse: the fact these fools made men look more like Cro-Magnon or that their cheap lines may have worked in the past.

Kim Kardashian’s Ass-ets


ICYMI: Kim Kardashian is a shy, reserved, modest individual who doesn’t really take well to people investigating her personal business. Despite that dedication to her own privacy,  she attempted to #BreakTheInternet and almost succeeded. We don’t know how she will explain this one to her kid, because by the time North comes of age the word “Photoshop” will almost certainly be meaningless.

POT-ty Mouth Reporter:

When you’re not happy with your job and you’re looking for a change, you probably should not go out scorched-earth style with middle fingers blazing. This reporter from Alaska’s KTVA-TV decided to let everyone know about her moonlighting gig as president of the Alaskan Cannabis Club, quitting her job in viral fashion.

Anything on “@Midnight”

hashtag wars

Part talk show. Part game show. Full throttle comedy. This genius concept is the love child of Comedy Central and Chris Hardwick. Since late 2013, this show has owned the top trending topics daily with its spirited Twit chat called ‘Hashtag Wars.’ An amalgamation of snark, brilliance, and some unfortunate muse creates a double helix out of Twitter. It’s in our DNA.

Apparently Awesome

This young man is Noah Ritter, but to most of us he’s known as the “The Apparently Kid.” He was just hanging out at the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania County Fair when his proclivity to rock an adverb landed him on talk shows, commercials, and even reality TV. Apparently, he did something right.

Wheel of Flat-Out Luck:

If you are not one of the 50 million people that have downloaded or viewed this night of fortune, meet Emil de Leon. So, it’s the bonus round and he gets a thing, scores only two letters, and has to guess three words. No way. Just no possible way. And, only one guess.


By now, everyone may not know how to spell Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or even understand how baseball is connected to it, but everyone knows about a certain Ice Bucket Challenge. This lightning in a bottle non-profit stunt became a global sensation for the beautiful and the common people alike. $100 million later, we’re still talking about it.


Alex Target

Remember this guy? If you spend any time on Twitter, you do. Alex from Target is exhibit A of why Twitter can be a dank, mystical place. What began as a innocent TwitPic of this cute dude in Texas running groceries and underwear became a PR scam by a company called Breakr that caused dude to get death threats (as well as an interview with Ellen). From there, CNN and 650K Teen Twitter followers later, we have something that really did break the Internet.

And, of course, Target didn’t mind too much. The corporate logo is a bullseye for a reason, and someone had good aim with this one.

Publish date: December 31, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT