As we move into the first weekend of Lent, we are reminded of one of our most interesting and unusual public relations success stories at INK. One that involved adult websites and Lent. It’s a great example of finding creative ways to take advantage of data.The client was Enigma Software, makers of the SpyHunter anti-malware program. Our friends at Enigma gave us access to reports on infection data. We were able to look up trends in infection based on location and days of the year. We knew that some of the major sources of malware infections were adult websites. People visiting them often ended up with computers infected with malware.

We learned, for example, that malware infections spike during the holiday shopping season. That makes sense as there’s a lot more online traffic from shopping. We wanted to find out if there were any other trends tied to specific times of the year, and we came across a very interesting one: malware infections took a pretty significant drop during Lent, particularly in cities with high Catholic populations.

As you may know, Lent is a time when people give up certain activities from Ash Wednesday through Easter. Some common things people give up for Lent include sweets, alcohol, or swearing. But many also give up certain online activities like social media, online shopping, or visiting adult websites. The experts at Enigma surmised that the drop in malware infections during Lent might be tied to people reducing their online activity, specifically visiting adult websites. And as you might expect, as soon as Lent was over, the infections spiked back up again, a sign that people were resuming the online activities that they had given up for six weeks.
It was a pretty strange pitch. We couldn’t say for certain that people giving up adult websites for Lent was the cause of the drop in infections during that time period. But it seemed as good of a reason as any. Our goal was to get the word out about Enigma’s expertise and to encourage links back to the Enigma website that would help search engine visibility.

We worked with our client to compile the data, match it against cities with high Catholic populations, and then to create a blog post on their web site with the surprising information. We then pitched the news to general news and technology outlets that often covered interesting computer security information.

Some reporters we reached out to thought it was a joke. But it most definitely was not. Thankfully, enough of them thought there was something interesting in the data to warrant some pretty good coverage.
Our efforts resulted in several articles including features in Newsweek, The Observer, and the science website I F***ing Love Science.

The headlines were strange and weird. But they were also a great example of the kind of interesting stories that can be found inside a company’s data. There’s a gold mine of material just waiting to be used if you have an inquisitive mind and can think like a journalist. There’s an Easter joke in there somewhere about how hunting around for good data is a lot like hunting for Easter eggs. But I’ve given up bad jokes for Lent…

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