Have you ever had a client ask you to “look into” or “take care of” their Wikipedia page? Most likely the answer is “yes.”
For PR professionals and the clients they serve, Wikipedia matters. It is the planet’s fifth-most visited domain, and 53% of American adults consult it on a regular basis.
Take a look at your client or brand’s page on Wikipedia now — is it up to date? Is all the information correct? Are all associated images optimized?
Wikipedia’s volunteer community has created an incredible resource, but it does contain some major blind spots.
So what’s a PRNewser to do? Editing a Wikipedia page can be difficult on one’s own—the rules for writing and editing are constantly changing, and they’re governed by a community that is resistant to outside assistance.
They have their reasons: we’re all aware of the fact that certain firms specialize in Wikipedia “sockpuppeting”, and while a coalition of the industry’s top names did come to an “agreement” with the site’s community this year, problems remain.
(For a refresher, we spoke to seven experts on the ramifications of the agreement earlier this Summer.)
Still, there has to be a way for people with a vested interest in clients’ Wikipedia profiles to work with the community on getting things right. Despite the inflammatory headlines, most PRs simply want their clients’ pages to be accurate.
As Jimmy Wales said, “I am opposed to allowing paid advocates to edit in article space at all, but am extremely supportive of [giving them] other helpful paths to assist us.”
In this PRNewser’s experience, one of the best paths forward is through William Beutler.
You may recall that, last February, he organized and led the invitation-based roundtable discussion on paid editing and “conflict of interest” that led to the aforementioned agreement. The joint statement by involved parties was intended to send a message to Wikipedia from the PR industry: “We want to get it right.”
This week he officially released his book Wikipedia and the Communications Professional: A Manual.
You can download it for free at the link; both the Council of Public Relations Firms and Institute for Public Relations, who partnered with Beutler Ink on the project, have also encouraged readers to check it out.
Has anyone read the book yet? Do we have thoughts?