PR Hack: How to Bypass a ‘None Shall Pass’ Paywall

By October 27, 2016Blog, PR Hacks

Jackpot! An enormously popular news outlet just published an article calling your company the best thing since sliced bread. So what’s the problem? The dreaded paywall.

Sure, you might have a subscription to The Wall Street Journal or New York Times, but that doesn’t mean your colleagues, senior leadership or social media following does. So, how do you share the article with the masses without basically buying them a subscription?

Here’s the Hack:

  1. Copy and paste the article’s headline into a Google search. When traffic comes from Google’s search engine, it dodges the paywall regardless if your IP address met its readership limit that month.
  1. Right-click on the hyperlinked headline in the Google search results and copy the URL. The result will probably be about 300+ characters long and start with “https://www.google.com/url?”
  1. Either share that super-long URL provided by Google, or run it through Bit.ly. Attempts to run the longer URL through Google’s URL shortener (goo.gl) will actually auto-correct the URL to the original one provided by the publication. That just brings you back to the paywall, so use Bit.ly.
  1. Share the link paywall-free.

Simple as that. This technique works well on paywall-prone publications like The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Crain’s Chicago. They all share similar paywalls, and the method outline above worked every time.

For more information on ensuring your team is using the latest digital media strategies, and how Tech Image digital PR experts can help, contact us.

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3 Comments

  • Qu Si Ba says:

    Tried the Bit.ly link for WSJ articles – doesn’t seem to work.

    Any idea why?

    Thanks!

    – Qu Si Ba

    • Joe Calderone says:

      Are you accessing the article through Google first? We’ve also only tested this hack in the United States, so it may not work from outside the US due to other content restrictions.

  • Joel says:

    Confirmed this does not work with the WSJ as well. Followed instructions exactly. Also tested in FF, Edge, Chrome-derived browsers. Doesn’t work in any of them.

    It *used* to work. But it doesn’t anymore.

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