The Story Behind our Infographic Going Viral

On the 5th of December, we launched an infographic dissecting the Irish Government’s 2013 Budget. The aim of the infographic was to provide an easy-to-digest graphical representation of the facts from the Budget while raising awareness of our own brand.

Why?

Our company Legal Panda was launched in October 2012 and we were looking for ways to increase our brand awareness in Ireland. Even though our core business is listing all solicitor practices in Ireland and being a destination for people in Ireland looking for legal help, we decided to use the event of the budget to try and gain as much awareness as possible surrounding our brand.

Success

We knew all eyes would be on the Irish Budget come the 5th of December. It’s probably one of the most covered annual news events. It also only takes two days before there is saturation coverage and interest in the topic drops off completely. Our strategy was simple. Create a well designed infographic that would explain the main points of the budget at a glance.

On the day we were up against six other budget themed infographics that were released. Deloitte, KBC Bank, PWC, Newstalk, Chartered Accountants Institute of Ireland and Sage all put their efforts into an infographic with the same data and same marketing goal.

A lot of these companies had financial credibility to support their infographic data, hired digital agencies, had extensive PR contacts and are household corporate names. Yet we managed to out market each of them.

The infographic went viral and has since been published in a newspaper, various news reporting sites, blogs, social networks and industry sites. In total we estimate it has been seen over 100,000 times (mostly in Ireland).

Here’s how we did it:

1. Preparation

We concepted the idea of doing an infographic for the 2013 Budget about a month before it was released. This gave us time to generate design ideas regarding the look and feel as well as how to layout the different pieces of information in order to get maximum impact and readability. In the weeks leading up to the Budget we had our ear to the ground listening to the leaks and speculation surrounding the budget. The information gathered during this period helped us refine our design on what to expect specifically allowing us to map out different design scenarios so we could be flexible on the day.

We chose to prepare long term static elements such as unemployment, GDP debt ratio and Budget Surplus data, which were all publicly available in advance of the budget. Including these types of information was able to give our final infographic more depth in what was an extremely fast turn-around time on the day.

2. Design and Concept

We did the entire project in-house. Drawing on my experience with Fi (Fantasy Interactive) I took on the responsibility myself to design, concept and execute the layout from start to finish. The main objective I tried to achieve was to translate the depressing figures into something that people could understand and looked good.

Inspired from reading Made to Stick, we knew we needed to pick a concrete image that could convey the abstract figure of €3.5 billion. The penny project came to mind, although we went for the grander option of making our calculations on €100 notes instead of pennies. We started to calculate how many pallets it would take to total €3.5 billion and we calculated each pallet could hold €100 million. From there we thought of how many pallets a forty foot container could hold and then used that as our centerpiece. Most sites who picked up the article seemed to use the 40 foot trailer analogy in their headline. The funniest comment we saw was: “great infographic but how can I find that truck?” :)

3. Timing

From reading the Sunday Business Post on the Sunday before the budget, we knew that KBC were planning to launch an infographic by 9pm on budget day. 8pm (or earlier) then became our deadline since we knew being first out was very important to becoming viral no matter how slick our graphic looked. The start of the Minister’s speech would kick off around 2pm and it would take him an hour to finish. I remember the actual day being very hectic, breathing in all the information the Minister was giving while updating all the speculated numbers and design elements we were using in our draft version with the real data. Timing was crucial. Competing against live blogs, Twitter, extended radio programmes, newspaper supplements and constant TV news coverage. It gets blanket news saturation on the day. For us, it was crucial to get in before KBC launched their infographic but also before people got fed up of hearing about the budget.

In the end we got ours out first and launched live on our site by 7pm.

4. PR Plan

By 7:03pm we had our first PR email sent out and by 7:05pm we had our last one out, about 20 in total. We also updated several social network accounts with updates about our graphic.

What was about 5 minutes of sending PR emails on the day, was days of research and preparation in the weeks beforehand. First we needed to decide where we could get published. We did some reverse engineering to see that Broadsheet, TheJournal, JOE, and a selection of other blogs and news sites had published infographics before. These were all good candidates by default to target again who might publish another infographic.

We found this out by doing an advanced search command: inurl:infographic site:.ie from this we trawled through sites that had published an infographic and were based in Ireland. We also looked at a handful of previous infographics and did a reverse image search on Google to see where they got mentioned before and added those to our hit list.

With our target sites ready to go, next what we did was research the appropriate journalist or blogger to contact. We did this by seeing who had covered the budget last year or had covered infographics or similar topics before on their site. Once we identified their name the next step was to get their email address. Using some guess work and verifying that with Rapportive we easily found most email addresses.

After the list was drawn up we wrote personalised emails and saved them as draft emails for each contact. This meant on the day there would be no customisation of the email needed and they could all be contacted and made aware of our infographic on Legal Panda in a couple of minutes.

5. SEO

To leverage all the PR attention, we knew we needed to make sure there was a link carried with the infographic wherever possible. To do this, we created an embed HTML code. Although this might seem standard to anyone familiar with infographics, without one you’re at risk of losing your hard work without any citation. This embed code makes it easy for bloggers to add to their own site. Sometimes even with an embed code people posted online without a link back. To handle this, we branded the infographic with Legal Panda strongly but didn’t overdo it. Using Google Image search we did a reverse lookup to see where people published our article with a link and followed up with a 100% success rate.

Conclusion

The number one goal for putting all the production effort into this strategy was to raise the awareness of Legal Panda as a company both online and offline. We wanted to keep our costs to a minimum while having maximum impact, a goal which is usually very hard to achieve as a new or established business. Of course there are many parts of the public and media engagement with our graphic that were not successful and did not go viral but overall we were very happy with the outcome.

I hope you enjoyed this transparent article and hopefully it helps anyone looking to get inspiration to do something similar. Feel free to drop a comment below with your thoughts.

Go raibh maith agat,

Stephen Martin

Link to Infographic: http://legalpanda.ie/budget-2013

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ohanlo1 Martin O’ Hanlon

    I knew there was work in it . . . but not that much !
    Martin O’Hanlon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/olan.osullivan Olan O’Sullivan

    Brilliant Post! Definitely taking notes!

  • Jason Bourne

    I like it. I will go to bookmark this post.