Riding the wave of a viral video: The story of the coyote and the badger

By Polly Winograd Ikonen

To quote our client, Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) CMO Marti Tedesco, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.”

I experienced that near-cosmic convergence earlier this month, when I arrived in the office on Tuesday, Feb. 5 to an inundation of media requests for a video segment of a coyote and badger hunting together. The video, which was captured as part of a POST wildlife research project, was leaked on Twitter by an unaffiliated scientist. The charming footage of these two unlikely animal friends went viral overnight.

LCI and POST worked quick to set up a communications command center – just as one would in a crisis situation. We urged POST’s social media team to share the video across all of their channels and create links + relevant hashtags. This would help us redirect traffic to the most relevant channels rather than the unofficial channel where it started. Luckily, the POST team had been preparing to share the video later in the week, so an approved blog post was ready to go, along with individual posts for all their social channels.

Within two hours – an eternity in internet time! – we prepared and instituted a uniform consent response to field queries from dozens of media outlets around the globe. Our goal was to provide context for the video, correct attribution, hashtags and links to POST’s channels and provide access to interviews with POST’s spokesperson. Every television outlet in the Bay Area sent crews to POST headquarters for a stand-up that day. POST’s wildlife program manager, Neal Sharma, conducted each interview with a calm focus and a real sense of joy. By Thursday – two days after going viral – we secured worldwide coverage that told our client’s whole story – the “why” behind this wildlife footage and not just the “isn’t that cute” factor (although there was plenty of that to go around). Stories ran on CNN.com (which also tweeted it out 13 times!), The Washington Post, BBC World Service, Buzzfeed and TIME, just to name a few. The momentum grew so much so that TV personality Stephen Colbert led his impeachment-day monologue with the coyote and badger footage, calling it “the big story everyone’s talking about.”

Clearly, this good-news nature story of an unlikely and symbiotic animal friendship was just what the world needed in a week of pandemics and political turmoil. And with excellent preparation and close client coordination, we were able to optimize this confluence for a global media reach that exceeded 1.5 billion potential viewers and 2 billion Twitter impressions.

Not bad for a Tuesday.

5 thoughts on “Riding the wave of a viral video: The story of the coyote and the badger

  1. Clients always want videos to go viral, but one can’t just “make that happen.” It happens when it’s truly authentic, speaks to people’s hearts and educates. The #CoyoteBadger did all three effectively – and also underscored our client, the Peninsula Open Space Trust’s mission – to help protect animals with wildlife corridors in urban areas. The key to success is making the most of an opportunity, which I’m happy to say the LCI and POST teams did with aplomb.

  2. Ditto! What a great example of how to rapidly and successfully respond when something unexpectedly goes viral and as a result, manage queries from media outlets around the globe on behalf of your client. It’s quite a case study how agency & client can effectively spring into action/hop on an opportunity together!

  3. Excellent blog, Polly! Funny –you never know what you can still learn in your PR career. Long live #CoyoteBadgerBuddies!

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