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How to hack PR - the PR Skyscraper Technique

Getting large media outlets to write about your startup can be tough - the Skyscraper Technique might help.

‍The original Skyscraper technique made popular by Backlinko focused on using the technique to gain backlinks to rank higher in Google. In this article I’ll explain how the article can be used to serve as a more direct traffic driver in terms of putting together a good PR/content strategy (not just links to increase organic rankings).


In this era where content marketing has become the new buzz the web is flooded with articles of varying quality; most of it quite bad. Writing articles about “3 Things I Ate For Breakfast This Week” is not creating value and providing ROI anymore, but that does not mean content is dead. There are still huge opportunities, but they require high quality content. And just as important: Distribution.


Writing a great content piece is the first step. Seeding and distributing it around the web is the second step and takes just as much, if not more, time than creating the content. In this regard the Skyscraper model employs a great method of reducing the risk of your content ‘flopping’.


The process goes as follows:

Use an analytical approach to find content worthy of linking back toCreate content better than (or inspired) by what is currently out thereReach out to the people linking to the content you ‘skyscraped’.


The trick is to use the best piece of content out and building on top of it. This not only makes your job easier, it also reduces the risk: If you’ve already decided that you want to invest your time in reading a long article about ranking factors, which article would you read?

The 130 Ranking Factors On GoogleTop 200 ranking Factors On Google


You’d probably choose the best – no. 2.


Step 1: Find content worthy of linking back to

You need to know what kind of content is generating the links and shares in your niche. I’d advise using Buzzsumo – a great tool to discover what content is popular across the web.

Create a list of websites operating in your market. If you’re, like me, creating an article for a clothing brand I would find the best fashion magazines, bloggers and companies who produce content that your audience is reading. Put them in a spreadsheet.Analyze each URL in Buzzsumo, noting down popular and relevant articles along with the shares, number of backlinks and author (this will save you time later).Next, put in keywords instead of URL’s. It will show you the most popular articles containing that keyword. Again, note down interesting content you found in the same template as above.


Now you should have a pretty good idea about which kind of content that is popular amongst your audience.


Step 2: Identify and create your content piece

You will most likely see a lot of different articles. What you are looking for is articles that are written based on some kind of asset.


An asset could be:

Interesting data, ideally from a third party (a survey, thorough research, academic papers you name it…)Infographic (make sure it’s excellent!)Interview (or access to) famous people, investors etc.


Find the original asset and find out how many backlinks this piece has. I suggest using Ahrefs or a similar tool. Does the content have many backlinks (used as a source in many articles)? If yes, profit!


These are the kinds of assets you should try to improve/iterate on. List them in your sheet and decide on an asset/content piece that is popular and have a connection with your product.


Now you have a piece to build upon. From here you can go two ways:

Improve an existing article by making it 5x better (the classic Skyscraper)Use your new insights to come up with new, but related content ideas (if X works Y will have a higher probability of working)


Of course you can also do a mix.


Be sure to make a great piece of content – mediocre will not be enough. Have an asset that makes your story a great catch for a journalist.


A good test of this: Can the journalist write a similar piece on his own quickly? A list of ‘top 10 sneakers this autumn’ does not have great value for him. He’d be able to write that himself quickly with a little Googling. Why would he give you credit and links?


‘Skyscraping’ the content



Marathon Data From 2015 (based on 2015 data set)

2015 Marathon Data And The Yearly Changes From 2008 (based on 2015 dataset + 2008-2014 datasets)


Flipping the content around



How You Are Perceived According To The Colors You Wear (based on survey data)

What Does The Way Your Clothes Fit Say About You? (based on survey data)


Step 3: Distribute your content

Now you have your content piece and a good list of journalists that will hopefully be interested in picking up the story (they already wrote about the content piece you skyscraped).


This is the hard (and scary) part. You need to reach out to them which is an art in and of itself.


Good luck!

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