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Our award-winning story with Sky News and client Semrush

Shining a light on the hidden issues of lockdown

While the online world may throw misinformation and biased information sources at us, it has also opened up new ways of accessing insight into consumer behaviours. This includes sourcing up-to-the-minute popular opinions and widespread sentiments, and the ability to identify trends through aggregated online searches being input all day, every day, around the country and beyond.

Driven by a mission to prove the power of data in storytelling and uncover hidden stories in statistics by using data-driven journalism, and an aspiration to drive positive change by playing a part in the fight against fake news, with Semrush we were able to reveal the worrying uplifts of searches for domestic abuse helplines and associated support groups during lockdown.

Narratives were starting to appear online from individual domestic abuse charities, discussing specific first-hand accounts from victims of violence, about the dangers of being confined inside with their abusers. Just as these voices most needed to be heard, they couldn’t in many cases speak loudly. How then could the true scale of such a sensitive and personal problem be mapped?

We were able to provide an unbiased and country-wide set of statistics through Semrush about searches for advice and support on domestic abuse. We could compare spikes in searches to ‘typical’ levels of online requests on the topic being undertaken before lockdown, and demonstrate that sufferers were being forced to seek support online when they essentially trapped inside with their abusers.

In a lot of cases victims couldn’t speak openly, or seek support or advice, but they could seek help online. Individual support charities couldn’t show the whole scale of this issue – but this data asset could. By providing this comprehensive and independent set of information, several media outlets were able to talk to the scale of the problem on a country-wide level, rather than airing isolated, highly emotive personal accounts that couldn’t translate the issue to a national scale.

The Results


  • Sky News used Semrush stats on prime time TV to show domestic abuse rose = 12.6 M viewers
  • Increased web searches related to domestic abuse based entirely on Semrush stats by Sky News  = Reach of 102.8 M viewers
  • Worked one on one with Victoria Derbyshire for BBC Panorama on domestic abuse during lockdown = The world’s longest running news program
  • SEMrush stats published on 19 other occasions in the UK = Reaching 150,374,500 viewers  


  • In Australia we saw 10 online publications using the data = Reach of 24,285,362 
  • In Canada we saw 5 online publications and 1 TV feature = Reach of 186,290,479 
  • Semrush hosted a global online journalism event in partnership with Sky News about the data-led story
  • Nearly 80 journalists from across the globe registered and became aware of Semrush as a source of reliable and insight-packed data
  • Journalism.co.uk wrote an article about data provision for journalists

Not only was this a massive success with coverage we secured on a national and international level, but we also raised awareness of serious social issues. We helped Semrush become accurate informants and barometers of important conversations that ultimately drive change. We revealed truths about significant stories in our community. An approach we will continue.

This campaign won Semrush the 2020 CMA Award for Best use of Content within Media Relations

Get in touch with us for bespoke data for your campaigns, or if you’re interested in how we can help you with PR.