Wikipedia has a guideline that strongly discourages public relations and communications professionals from editing articles about their company or clients. While this guideline has been in place for many years, my research found that few public relations professionals are familiar with it and even less understand how to handle Wikipedia.
In February 2014, I was part of a group who met to discuss the complex relationship between the Wikipedia and public relations communities. An outcome of that meeting was the creation of a Wikipedia Statement that recognizes Wikipedia’s contribution as a resource and publically states that the firms that participate in the statement will abide by a list of Wikipedia principles and guidelines. Essentially, those involved agree not to directly edit Wikipedia. I believe this Statement was a great step for public relations and it is nice to see 37 agencies listed along with four professional organizations, including the Institute for Public Relations.
Now that awareness of Wikipedia guidelines has improved, the next step was to create a tool that helps public relations professionals properly navigate Wikipedia. I’m thrilled to say that we now have a primer that provides an overview of the principles and guidelines along with tips on how to work with Wikipedia. Many topics are covered such as how to create a Wikipedia account (p. 9), what to do if you find vandalism on your page (p. 11), what to consider if you want an article but don’t currently have one (p.12), and creating an organizational Wikipedia policy (p. 14). Bill Beutler from Beulter Ink wrote the manual along with feedback and advice from me and others in public relations and from the Wikipedia community.
The Wikipedia and the Communications Professional – A Primer, presented by the Institute for Public Relations and the Council of Public Relations Firms, is available in the IPR Social Science of Social Media Research Center along with other great social media resources.
Marcia W. DiStaso, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University, a Research Editor for the IPR Social Science of Social Media Research Center, and a Senior Research Fellow for the Arthur W. Page Center.