What is Your Wikipedia PR Strategy?

What is your Wikipedia PR strategy? Wikiped, the free encyclopediaIt is borderline heretical to imply that there is such a thing as a Wikipedia PR strategy. After all, Wikipedia is the pure, unimpeachable source for information that cannot be manipulated or influenced by outside forces – that is the presumption of its founder, Jimmy Wales, and its legions of near-fanatical volunteer editors. Perception, in this case, is nowhere near reality.

Why do PR professionals need to bother with Wikipedia?

Search Google for “wikipedia web traffic data” and the top two results are links to Wikipedia entries on web analytics and traffic.  Not only does Wikipedia control a vast amount of information on the web, they exert tremendous control on what is said about them. Wikipedia ranks 13th for overall web site traffic, according to Hitwise. Wikipedia receives between 25,000 and 60,000 page requests per second. The growth of Wikipedia has been fueled by its dominant position in Google search results; about 50% of search engine traffic to Wikipedia comes from Google.

Chances are that Wikipedia has an entry about your client. Chances are just as good that the entry is inaccurate, skewed, perhaps even destructive to your clients business and there is nothing you can do about it. Wikipedia has no editorial board and no editor who is assigned and accountable for a particular entry. Wikipedia does not claim to be accurate, they only require that a claim in an entry be certified by a verifiable outside source, which can itself be manipulated.

Microsoft felt the wrath of Wikipedia when it tried to pay an editor to correct inaccurate information on their entry which, they felt, had been manipulated by a competitor.  Microsoft was publicly chastised for this gross violation but I felt their pain (maybe the only time I have felt Microsoft’s pain). I tried to correct a simple typo in a client entry and it was reversed within minutes because of the dreaded COI- conflict of interest. That leaves you to either mask your identity (destructive and not recommended) or find workarounds to ensure accurate information on clients.

If you do not have a Wikipedia strategy there is a huge hole in your PR program.  The way the web works, Wikipedia will only get stronger and more powerful as Google solidifies its dominance in search.  One positive aspect of Wikipedia is its adherence to NPOV (neutral point of view) in its entries. This ensures lack of hype and a consistent flat-line style in its writing. This is a useful guide when producing web content on clients. Is Citizendium a viable alternative to Wikipedia?

From Wikipedia: Critics of Wikipedia accuse it of systemic bias and inconsistencies, and target its policy of favoring consensus over credentials in its editorial process. Wikipedia’s reliability and accuracy are also an issue. Other criticisms are centered on its susceptibility to vandalism and the addition of spurious or unverified information, though scholarly work suggests that vandalism is generally short-lived.

Media Thrives Covering Death of Media

Tim Geithner on last cover of Portfolio, Conde NastThe rapid demise of traditional media is fueling a new media stream, most notably on Twitter, chronicling day-by-day media death blows. The merciless axe fell today on Conde Nast’s slick business mag Portfolio, launched two years ago during boom times with lots of fanfare and a big budget. Peter Kafka, wsj.com ‘All Things Digital’ MediaMemo blogger got a jump on the competition with his as-it-happens tweets (http://twitter.com/pkafka) about the end of the print & web-versions of Portfolio.

  • May issue, out now (Tim Geithner cover), is Conde Nast Portfolio’s last. Web site to close “in the second quarter” http://bit.ly/1517il about 2 hours ago from TweetDeck
  •  Conde Nast publisher David Carey : “The company is deeply grateful to Portfolio’s readers ” http://bit.ly/1517il about 3 hours ago from TweetDeck 
  •   Conde Nast declines to comment re: Portfolio shutdown. http://mediamemo.allthingsd… about 4 hours ago from TweetDeck
  •    Source tells me Conde Nast is shuttering Portfolio and is informing staff right now. Posting ASAP about 4 hours ago from TweetDeck

Also see http://twitter.com/themediaisdying

Matthew Bishop of the Economist says: “After tweeting for a week, I am already convinced that Twitter is the “killer app” for journalists, and will hasten the end for newspapers.” Follow him @mattbish

According to the latest semi-annual report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the Wall Street Journal is alone among the top 25 U.S. newspapers in reporting higher weekday circulation for the six months ending March 31, 2009, than for the same period a year earlier. Its circulation of 2,082,189 constituted a 0.6 percent increase. The New York Times (-3.6 percent), the Washington Post (-1.2 percent), the Los Angeles Times (-6.6 percent), the Chicago Tribune) (-7.5 percent), Newsday (-3 percent), New York Daily News (- 14.3 percent),  New York Post (-20.6 percent).

PR/Media Week in Review 04-26-2009

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNews, Week in Review Die! Twitter! Die! Die! Die!  Twitter Twaddle amps to record level last week – is the end near?

Over three years ago Tom Foremski fomented social media revolution with his seminal post Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die! - confirming and articulating a mass perception and setting many of us on a mission to find the next stage of public relations. Blogs, RSS, widgets, video – we could get information, entertainment and news straight to constituents and ‘relate’ to the ‘new’ media in a much more efficient manner through a myriad of free distribution channels.   A blog post can be a press release, Brian Solis said.  He was/is right. Then came Twitter.  Annoying, invasive, addictive, self-destructive Twitter. I didn’t think Twitter would last – then I didn’t think Barack Obama could win the election.

The obscene pervasiveness and inevitable flame-out of Twitter should be evident. What is not is how Twitter corrodes our communication. There are now two kinds of Twitterers: 1) inane 2) self-promotional. I am in category 2 (at least that’s my self assessment) and follow other self-promoters, whether they are journalists, news oraganizations, shills for products or services, consultants, flacks or flack service providers. My Twitter stream is like a Times Square news zipper with tips and news I can hopefully use. It has some value for time wasted sifting through the dreck.

It is category 1 that frustrates and will be the death of Twitter. Many social media gurus fall into this camp. ‘Just stopped into Starbucks for double soy latte.’ ‘Tied my shoelace and buckled my belt.’ ‘Bought a magazine – wow.’ Most of Twitter falls into the “Too much information” category and the rush to build ’followers’ leads to silly behavior, blatant prostitution (link whores have ceded to Twitter sluts), and obsessive non-sensical Twittering. Twitter is not about communication – it is Ashton Kutcher trying to build his brand and infiltrate as many minds as possible with the least effort.

 Tweetle dee and Tweetle dumb:  The week’s Twitter news roundup

Web Video of the Week / Evil Side of Twitter

The Seattle P-I online edition dropped off the top 30 list of newspaper sites in March, according to Editor & Publisher magazine. There are all sorts of prognostications about why this has happened – they no longer have a print edition to support the online presence – but the reality is that the online P-I is a poor excuse for a news source. Hearst eviscerated the P-I news bureau and essentially turned the seattlepi.com into a bottom feeding web aggregator, not a ‘news’ source. The P-I web edition illustrates the difficulty of grafting a new media venture on to an old media property.

SHORT TAKES: Police Working With PR Firm in Shift Toward More Communication - Washington Post | Evidence and PR spin collide in Vioxx courtroom battle - The Australian | Negative press hurting Kaylee’s family, PR rep says - Jason Wallace and his public relations consultant lashed out at the media yesterday, saying negative publicity has threatened the family’s financial stability, globeandmail.com, Canada |

Online Newsroom Practices to Attract and Satisfy Journalists, Investors and Analysts - Thurs, Apr 30, 1:00 PM EDT, Bulldog Reporter’s PR University, $299 per phone site. Seems relevant. Productive?

So you want to break into public relations?

public relations - who are talking to?This is a difficult and confusing time to break into the public relations business.  As  traditional media continues to disappear at unprecedented speed, and the acceptance and use of social media increases exponentially, the PR landscape becomes radically altered.  How do you promote a service, product or person in 2009 when the rules of engagement have shifted so far that nobody can say for certain what they are? How do you judge success when you have no verifiable way to measure it? Why on earth would anybody want to break into this business now when there are no jobs and nobody can agree what public relations is anymore?

I faced a room full of mass communications students last weekend at VCU and tried to answer these questions. The short answer is:  Uncertainty brings opportunity and this is a thrilling time to be in the communications field.  It begins at the top, as Barack Obama re-defines how government communicates with and interacts with its constituents.  And it comes down to us – never before have the methods of communication – the ability to package and distribute news and information on a mass scale – been in the hands of ‘the people.’

All the news and info distribution sources we now have at our disposal - including web sites, blogs, Twitter, Flickr (or any web photo platform), YouTube (or any web video platform), RSS, widgets – are absolutely free. All it takes is imagination and time and you can shout to the world. 

The PR business still treats social media as a curiosity, an add-on. They generally still don’t get that  PR needs to lead the communications mix (PR/marketing/advertising) and PR needs to follow media into an Internet-based, digital distribution system. Instead of pitching the media we become the media.

Writing has always been an important, and sorely under served, element of public relations. Now that we can’t complain about lack of avenues for publishing, writing is even more important.  Check out Emily Valentine’s blog Cultural Anthropologist. Emily was one of the 50 or students from the 10 colleges and universities at the VCU PRSSA event last weekend.  There are also links to writing samples on Emily’s blog, including Microfinance: social networking meets social enterprise on the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy web site. Coming into the ‘new PR’ landscape, Emily is honing her writing and social media skills, and engaging in socially optimized PR. It make take some time for PR employers to understand the value of writing, blogging, and social media literacy – but the smart ones will soon enough.

the 'new public relations' is the marriage of news creation with news distribution

See The Future of PR (SlideShow) | Mark Rose LinkedIn

PR/Media Week in Review 04-19-2009

Quick takes on a beautiful NYC Sunday. The magnolia blooms are peaking.  

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNews, Week in ReviewThe Domino’s fiasco dominated PR news last week as a couple of dweebs in a local pizza pit dramatized every body’s worst nightmare about fast food kitchens. Letterman or Jon Stewart couldn’t do a better parody of how to bomb a company with a YouTube video. The PR lessons from this will be amusing and possibly instructive, and you have to wonder how Domino’s can right its public image without addressing its core business. How much can PR gloss over cold greasy pizza?

In a hotel room in Richmond, VA, last Friday I caught the sorry spectacle of Ashton Kutcher spinning his 1M Twitter milestoneon Larry King like an entrepreneur with a new ice cream cone. Then P. Diddy joined him waxing about his deepness, his soul, his “Twitter DNA,” that gets zapped out to 800,000 or so followers in 140 characters or less. Finally, communication that doesn’t involve actual writing, where you can infiltrate 1 M Twitter minds with barely 15 seconds of sweat. If you don’t have to write, then you don’t have to think, and thinking is, you know, tiring and, you know, frustrating.  That’s why bloggers are abandoning their blogs in droves for the more efficient, less taxing Twitter, thus validating our worst impression of most bloggers.  See CNN Buys Twitter Account. Touring the historic areas of Richmond, VA, where Abraham Lincoln walked in to the capitol of the Confederacy, April 5, 1865, I wondered: isn’t the Gettysburg Address, with its taut, precise prose, its brevity – isn’t it perfect Twitter material? Would Lincoln Twitter if Lincoln could Twitter? Or, would he reject the Twitter Twaddle and the obvious manipulations of the Celeb Twitterati? 

Holy Tweeters: Church promotes social media during sermon. Leaders of a Charlotte North Carolina-area church told members to bring their phones and data devices to Church and Twitter during services. “We want to leverage everything that happens technologically in our culture to bring people closer to God and to each other,” said the Pastor, who also pointed out that “we have a real desire we have in our culture and in our city for a human connection.” Twitter brings you closer to God?

Barack Obama’s first 100 days are coming up April 29 and the stories are already cranking. See Reuters timeline and supporting text and photos. Obama is a news magnet, charismatic, quotable, and his communication agenda is unprecedented and revolutionary.  How do you support our continuing experiment in democracy with digital PR skills? See Communication, Transparency, Participation.

A big thank you to everybody at VCU Mass Communications and the students who came from several surrounding areas to PROmoting Success, Saturday, April 18, organized by the VCU PRSSA.  More on this in the next couple of days.

 Web Video of the week