There’s been an ongoing debate between leading PR pros and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales about PR's participation in the creation and editing of Wikipedia posts. Wales says that objectivity and transparency is lacking among PR pros, especially within agencies. The PR side disagrees with that assessment.
In "How PR Can Forge Peaceful Coexistence With Wikipedia," Scott Van Camp writes that while PR professionals—agency or corporate—aren’t banned from Wikipedia, they are dissuaded from directly editing articles. Wales simply doesn’t believe that PR agencies can do the right thing when it comes to creating and editing articles in Wikipedia. This can be problematic, of course, if you’re a PR practitioner whose job it is to keep your organization’s content accurate and up to date. There is even more urgency when you consider that Wikipedia is dominant when it comes to Google search results.
We decided to ask PR News' online community the question: Have you ever edited your brand's or your client's Wikipedia page? More than half (55%) of respondents said they hadn't, while 45% said they had. Current PR/Wikipedia controversy aside, PR pros need to be cognizant of Wikipedia's search engine power. It may never be the place to deliver campaign messages, but at the bare minimum should contain company information that is up to date and factual.
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