You may have heard the recent story about the little venomous reptile that captured America’s hearts. An Egyptian cobra escaped from the Bronx Zoo’s reptile house, and spent a week at large. And apparently got a Twitter account.

@BronxZoosCobra became an overnight sensation, garnering nearly a quarter of a million followers in just a few days. This parody account imagined the snake on a whirlwind tour of New York, from the top of the Empire State Building where all the people look like “delicious little mice” to the famous Magnolia Bakery. But now that the real Bronx Zoo cobra has been found curled up in a utility room in its very own reptile house, the game’s over.

Or is it?

As I was talking to Steven Shattuck, a local marketing ninja/rockstar/evangelist/thought leader, about the cobra fever sweeping the nation, he had a thought. A devious thought. What if the entire affair was just a marketing stunt?

Think about it. Suddenly, an obscure zoo in an outer borough is thrust into the spotlight. A 20 inch cobra fascinates the nation, and her Twitter account takes 226,000 people on a wild, snakey ride through New York’s biggest landmarks.

What small business owners can learn about PR from this story?

If the NYC Tourism Board didn’t come up with this idea, they should have. When considering your marketing, think about how you can be creative, and either create local news (though we don’t recommend actually freeing a venomous snake on an unsuspecting populace), or ride the coat tails of a fun, light piece of news like this. Remember: marketing isn’t done just with brochures, websites, and press releases: it can be done with a great story, a little bit of social networking, and a great sense of humor.