4 Things: In Case You Want to Know More about Wikipedia

Back in 2006, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales made his bias to public relations pros loud and clear. Can PR professionals do right by their clients AND Wikipedia? This was the question raised by a national webinar that took place on June 10, 2014. As a listener who was simply curious about the puzzle (and then got hooked by the challenge), here are some of my learnings:


“I think we need to be very clear in a lot of different places that PR firms editing Wikipedia is something that we frown upon very very strongly. The appearance of impropriety is so great that we should make it very very strongly clear to these firms that we do not approve of what they would like to do.” – Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia

 1.       Why is Wikipedia important to PR?

With a focus on accuracy and objectivity, Wikipedia has established a strong brand and become the sixth most popular website in the world. It is the starting point for most people’s online research, and as a result, it has a strong impact on reputations of both individuals and organizations.

 2.       Why doesn't Wikipedia and PR get along?

Wikipedia wasn’t intended to be used as a business directory, and PR professionals are often seen in a negative light when directly associated with the platform. On the other hand, the reputation of an organization can be attacked in a matter of hours through inaccurate changes to its Wikipedia pages and PR pros have found it’s difficult to engage with the Wikipedia community.

 3.       Can PR and Wikipedia become friends?

On the same day as the webinar, 11 global PR agencies, including Edelman, issued a joint statement in an attempt to build the bridge between PR and Wikipedia. These agencies promised to follow Wikipedia’s rules and prevent themselves from directly editing clients’ Wikipedia pages.

 4.       What should I do if want to edit my client’s Wikipedia entry?

  • Familiarize yourself with Wikipedia and its ethos. Review its five pillars and content policies.
  • Create a Wikipedia account and an associated user page disclosing your work place and a list of your clients.
  • Head to the Talk section (the tab at the top of a Wikipedia entry labeled Talk) of your client’s Wikipedia page and post your proposed edits, or engage directly with the original editor or an editor of the page.
  • For more details, please read Wikipedia Best Practice Guidance for Public Relations Professionals, which covers the basics of Wikipedia and its content guidelines, best ways to collaborate, case studies and FAQs.

Although it takes time, patience, and a strategic mind to nurture healthy relationships with the Wikipedia community, when done right, it can benefit the business in an incomparable way. The challenge here is to find the common ground that benefits both Wikipedia and our clients.  

To access the recording of the webinar, register here and launch the webcast.