Communications, Strategy, Wikipedia

PR Professionals Need a Wikipedia Plan

A public relations professional colleague, Dale, got a request/demand from his client: We need a Wikipedia page. Please make that happen.

He knew exactly who to call: Wikibusters. (That would be To the Point Collaborative.) We had previously worked together on Wikipedia articles, and he knew he needed a refresher course in editing on behalf of this client.

What he didn’t need was a primer on why his client should have a Wikipedia page. Dale knows how important Wikipedia is to a company’s brand strategy: How a well-done page can set a client apart from the competition and boost Google search rankings considerably.

 

Adding Wikipedia presence for clients

Dale is justifiably proud of his Wikipedia editing prowess. When he hears tales of Wikipedia woe from other PR professionals, he has to chuckle. He can confidently offer Wikipedia editing as part of his services to clients because he’s worked hard to get the training he needs.

As a PR professional, you surely have a promotion strategy for your clients, but does it include Wikipedia? Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash.

As a PR professional, you surely have a promotion strategy for your clients, but does it include Wikipedia? Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash.

Dale’s read the rules of engagement, particularly for those doing paid editing, and is a stickler for following the rules. He’s very clear about expectations with his clients, and he’s clear about being the expert when it comes to Wikipedia.

Where most PR professionals avoid Wikipedia work — or cringe when a client or boss says, “How come we don’t have a Wikipedia article?” — Dale welcomes the challenge of helping his clients have a presence on Wikipedia. “Don’t train anyone else, please!” he said to me. “I want to have this all to myself!”

Despite Dale’s desire to corner the public relations market on Wikipedia editing, all full-service public relations firms should be able to offer Wikipedia editing services to their clients. It’s almost PR malpractice not to.

 

Get training to learn to ethically edit

It’s true that Wikipedia can be a difficult arena. But it’s a skill any savvy marketer can learn, and it’s of extremely high value to the client.

Some marketing firms simply offload their Wikipedia work to third-party services that do all the writing and posting for them. But going that route will leave you without knowing how to post yourself — relying on them for every edit — and require you to work with them on their schedule, not yours.

Adding pertinent company info to a Wikipedia page takes your client's brand beyond social media hype — elevating the professionalism of their brand and yours. Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash.

Adding pertinent company info to a Wikipedia page takes your client’s brand beyond social media hype — elevating the professionalism of their brand and yours. Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash.

It’s far better to have someone on your professional staff with the basic editing expertise, and a service like ours on call in case you have a question or need to talk through an update, discussion, or to have backup.

What does it take to make that happen? Dale can tell you. He took a basic Wikipedia editing training course with us. We set him up with a very transparent user account that declared his intention to do paid editing. Then we guided him through a series of edits to articles that interested him, so he could get the feel for the platform.

We answered questions along the way, such as:

  • Who are these volunteer editors?
  • How do I communicate with them?
  • How can I find out who’s been editing an article?
  • Where do I find the templates for formatting Wiki text?
  • How do I keep track of edits made to the articles I created?

When he was comfortable with navigating and editing Wikipedia, we reviewed the draft article he wanted to post, offered revisions, and guided him through posting it. Voilà!

Dale now tells all his clients that Wikipedia should be part of their brand — if they’ve gotten the right media coverage to achieve Wikipedia notability.

And that is something Dale didn’t need our help with.

 

What’s stopping you from learning how to edit Wikipedia?

If you’re still questioning getting training, these takeaways will help:

  • If you practice public relations, you should understand the value of Wikipedia to a brand.
  • If you understand the value to a brand, you should have a working knowledge of how Wikipedia works and what the rules are for paid editing.
  • Don’t try to educate yourself. Wikipedia’s rules and guidelines were written to be obtuse. Find a good consultant—we like to think that would be us-—to educate and train you.
  • Use consultants like us to keep you updated on the latest trends and technological advances of Wikipedia.
  • Know how to do a basic notability assessment for clients who do not have a Wikipedia presence. (We can help with that.)
  • For those that have a page that needs work, approach revisions cautiously. Wikipedia is an episodic platform where patience and caution are rewarded.
  • Set reasonable expectations for clients that want a Wikipedia page. You must be the expert, ready to explain that Wikipedia is not your website, nor does anyone control it. You manage an article by following best practices for editing.

In 3 years, we predict, every public relations firm of any stature will offer Wikipedia editing as part of its services. So, you can wait 3 years and jump in late to the party, or you can get started now to add Wikipedia editing to your list of client services.

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