Pitching at the Speed of COVID-19


Yonder, an AI software company, helps top brands navigate an increasingly complex internet landscape by uncovering the origin, context, and authenticity of online narratives. As COVID-19 became a global crisis and panic began to spread, Yonder knew that it could be a valuable resource on disinformation and conspiracy theories that were rapidly spreading – in fact, 10X faster than during normal times.

Challenge

This pace presented a challenge and an opportunity for gaining the media’s attention amidst the intense pandemic news cycle. During the first months of the pandemic, INK carefully studied the way the media landscape was changing in response. We determined that in order to inject Yonder into the growing news coverage of COVID-19 conspiracies, we had to gain interest at the speed at which false information was going viral. There was no time for communicating background or new terminology in our pitches. We needed a simple hook to open the door for more nuanced conversations.

Solution

Recognizing that reporters were stretched thin, INK worked with Yonder to identify a high-impact data point that was quickly digestible and framed the problem: during the crisis, false information was spreading from fringe groups to mainstream 10X faster than usual.

Pulling from the pool of emerging topics Yonder’s AI software pinpointed, INK then offered a customized assortment of angles depending on the reporter’s focus and readership. Examples of these narratives included: anti-vaxxers pushing vitamin C as a cure for COVID-19; social suspicion and racism of food delivery people; 5G spreading the virus; hatred for preppers; and that Bill Gates developed the virus.

With this kind of outreach, we were able to get reporters on the phone with Yonder’s CEO to introduce them to the company and its concept of internet factions, and to identify their particular misinformation curiosities and interests. We then used those learnings to conduct deeper excavations of Yonder’s information and deliver journalists specific data mapping back to the angles they were working on. Knowing which narratives mattered to an interested reporter in the first stages of the conversation allowed us to deliver supporting data faster and in more customized way, aiding the quick turnaround needed to keep up with the news cycle.

This not only gave journalists access to helpful information; it also saved the data team time. With so many conversations that they could be chasing at once, this approach allowed for a more structured process for identifying and distributing insightful data to the media and their readers.


INK helps me prioritize and experiment with data angles before investing the time in a deep dive. They work fast, hard, and smart, and the results speak for themselves.

Lisa Roberts

CMO, Yonder


Results

As a result, INK secured eight interviews with top tier tech and business reporters. Yonder’s perspective and data anchored articles in an impressive list of major business and tech outlets, including TechCrunch, Fast Company, Buzzfeed, Axios, and Financial Times. This campaign contributed to a 94% increase in Yonder’s Marketing-Qualified Leads from February to March 2020.