As the world continues to shift to digital the threat of cyber-attacks from malicious software get stronger by the day.

Businesses worldwide were recently hit with a large-scale cyber-attack dubbed “WannaCry”. The ‘ransomware’ caused absolute chaos globally. Once WannaCry took over the user’s PC, those affected were told they had 3 days to cough up bitcoins to retrieve their now inaccessible files… or they will be deleted forever.

National Health Service (NHS) hospitals across the UK in particular took a bashing from WannaCry. Some couldn’t access patient data, and other had to cancel operations and divert ambulances.

In this post we’ll be looking at the impact of the digital response to the WannaCry crisis and suggest the best response PR professionals should take if ever they land themselves in “worse case” scenarios.

Using social media monitoring to understand the impact

Using Meltwater’s media monitoring tool, we were able to search and listen for the term “NHS” and ‘national health service’ alongside keywords related to the WannaCry ransomware.


Number of online news mentions of the NHS and the recent cyber-attack (12/05/17-22/05/17)


Number of social mentions of the NHS and the recent cyber-attack (12/05/17-22/05/17)

In the 10 days following the news of the virus there was thousands of mentions both on social media and in the online news. 118,861 total mentions. That’s an awful lot over 10 days!

Media Monitoring: analyse media exposure

Media monitoring - exposure national health service

Here we can see the huge spike in both news and social coverage. The National Health Service, alongside computer virus related keywords coverage skyrocketed overnight. We saw coverage surge from only 108 mentions the day before the malware, to 28.35k social media posts when it first hit.

It’s not surprising that such an incident generated so much coverage, however by using our media monitoring platform we found out some surprising insights from the analysis too!

Media Monitoring: Analyse trending themes, sentiment and location of posters.

Media monitoring - dashboard national health service

Here’s the dashboard we quickly created using our tool

Posts with the highest potential reach

Which countries talked about NHS cyber-attack?

  • UK: 18,019 news mentions
  • USA: 19,943 news mentions
  • France: 1501 news mentions (even when we only searched in English)
  • India: 1411 news mentions
  • Australia: 1156 news mentions

Word cloud of internationally trending themes

Media monitoring - themes national health service

Wordcloud with trending themes in the US.

national health service

Why did America write so many articles mentioning the NHS and the ransomware?

Based on the trending themes of coverage across America, articles focused on preventing being infected by ransomware, speculation of who might be behind it and the worldwide impact of the virus.

Sentiment of coverage:

Media monitoring - Sentiment national health service

Posts mentioning ‘NHS’ or ‘national health service’ on day of crisis.

Download our eBook ‘Media Intelligence for Crisis Communications’ full of tips on how to create a crisis prevention plan and how to address a crisis- as well as when to work with legal advisors.