PR and Wikipedia: Building a better relationship
September 2012 | Volume 10 Issue 9
Anyone can contribute to Wikipedia, the vast online encyclopedia. But the complexity of connecting with this online collaborative community poses challenges. The debate about whether, and to what extent, PR professionals should edit their organization's or client's Wikipedia entries brings up ethical questions about transparency and conflict of interest. This issue of CW Bulletin looks at the situation from a variety of viewpoints: examining ethical concerns, offering guidance on how to effectively engage with the Wikipedia community, and looking at how to overcome the chasm between the PR profession and the Wikipedia community.
Amanda Aiello Beck
PR AND WIKIPEDIA
by Neville Hobson, ABC
Whenever you look up something online, the chances are good that the results of your search will include information about your topic on Wikipedia. The scope and scale of Wikipedia is usually far deeper and greater than most people realize. And while Wikipedia is described as something anyone can edit, the reality of doing that is a challenge for many communicators.
by Mark Estes, ABC
Should public relations professionals be allowed to provide content to public or community sources of information on the Internet? Shouldn’t conflict of interest and other ethical considerations prevent PR pros from writing about clients and client companies for a venue such as Wikipedia? These are some of the questions brought to light by the controversy surrounding PR professionals and the Wikipedia community.
STRATEGIES FOR BRANDS
by David King
When legal and marketing departments establish their corporate Wikipedia strategy or policy, they often feel they are faced with only two choices: Ignore one of the world’s most influential websites with a hands-off policy or engage in the risky, controversial and ethically ambiguous practice of directly editing Wikipedia entries. But most companies can find more effective middle ground by engaging in PR or content marketing with Wikipedia’s citizen journalists—a safe and ethical way to make improvements to content that is valuable both for the organization and Wikipedia.
ENGAGING WITH WIKIPEDIA
by Austin Buckley
Clearly, who is allowed to edit Wikipedia pages and what changes they can make is a contentious topic. Yet adjustments to pages are often necessary, as organizations and products are changing more and more quickly. Here are some best practices for Wikipedia use, as well as some general guidelines for working with the site’s editors to ensure your clients’ pages are as accurate and up-to-date as possible.
Points of View
by David Gerard
Public relations professionals have often had a rocky relationship with the Wikipedia community. Fortunately, the problems can be resolved to the benefit of both. PR professionals who spend the time and effort to learn Wikipedia's content policies and behavioral etiquette concerning conflict-of-interest editing will help both Wikipedia and themselves. If you respect the community, you will generally receive respect in return. Those who put in the effort to participate and engage with the Wikipedia community properly will find editors who are willing to spend their time helping them.
by Phil Gomes
Wikipedia is an incredible accomplishment. That said, whether asked for or not, Wikipedia carries an incredible responsibility given that it’s the most frequent and highly placed search result for almost any topic or company name. Fostering an environment in which a group with access and motivation to pursue accuracy is actively discouraged from participating is not only a flawed strategy in the long term, but ultimately quite contrary to the public interests that Wikipedia professes to serve.
Borrow Brilliance: Incorporate fiction writers’ techniques into your business communications
by Lynda McDaniel
Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a three-part series that looks at how to bring more creativity to your business communications.
In this age of TMI (too much information), we need to capture readers’ attention, revive their overworked brains and write so that they retain our messages. Sounds daunting, but help lies in that best-seller on your bedside table. Fiction writers have perfected techniques we can borrow to make our communications just as exciting.
- "Reaching Out for a Worthy Cause: shareURmeal, Singapore! 2010," Tim Mou Hui
- "Gaining Healthy Media Publicity to Grow Australia's Small Business Clinic," WGC Public Relations
- "To Donate Life, Discuss It Today—OK Campaign," Ogilvy Public Relations for the Organ and Tissue Authority
Communication in the News
Related Resources provides additional articles and resources for understanding this month's topic of PR and Wikipedia. You can also find some of these links alongside each corresponding feature article for quick reference. Links include:
- "Getting PR Industry and Wikipedia Talking," by Steve Virgin
- "PR and Wikipedia: Working towards a transparent relationship," by Julio Romo
This issue sponsored by:
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