Is Wikipedia Too Hard For PR?

Posted on December 12, 2011


Marketers should all think about innovation the same way R&D does and the same way Silicon Valley thinks about it. Accepting failure, demonstrating patience, tolerance for risk and unrivaled persistence.

Wikipedia is like a wonderful piece of furniture that comes with a big piece of paper “some assembly required.” You know, the one. It comes with instructions 20 pages long that are written in some strange form of English. To many, Wikipedia is a hostile place. Your Wikis were rejected, the community accused you of things you don’t understand, you don’t appreciate what they’re saying about you.

It’s because you didn’t follow the instructions. Really? Aren’t we lucky the Wikipedia community has created so   many   instructions. Mountains and mountains and mountains of instructions. What? You haven’t read them?

Wikipedia has been rated as the most influential website on the planet, beating out Twitter. Yup, Wikipedia is more important than Twitter. Wikis on Wikipedia show up in the top ten of 95% of all searches. Have you read Twitter’s instructions?  You probably didn’t need to. I guess that’s why you’re on it – no assembly required.

Some of the largest PR agencies in the world don’t know how to work with Wikipedia. They have hands-off policies, have to explain to their clients it’s not what they do, or get embarrassed when they do it only to get pulled aside to Wikipedia’s COI noticeboard where they’re publicly lambasted.

Every single time someone tells me Wikipedia isn’t important, within five minutes I can pull up the username or IP address they used to make edits unsuccessfully. In some cases, their story of public humiliation on Wikipedia, where every edit is transparent, is astounding. It’s ok, I was there too about three years ago.

When did it become ok to give up? To forgo learning new things because they are too hard? To not tackle a problem because the instructions are too long? When did it become ok to put our heads in the sand on the world’s most important website?

The answer is because it’s too hard.

When did dubious and seedy shortcuts become commonplace? Why does the unethical behavior of organizations like Bell Pottinger drive fear into the hearts of honest organizations? And why does the news of their atrocious behavior not surprise me? I suppose I might as well ask why human nature isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

I shouldn’t have a beef. The utter lack of expertise is why I get to do work that I love. Every client I have, I have because they went to their PR agency first and didn’t get the answer or result they wanted. It’s good for me they haven’t figured it out. That I can partner instead of compete with them.

I’m frustrated because we gave up.  We gave up so damn easily.

-End Rant

About The Author David King @David44357

David is a seasoned communications professional, a social media marketer, and an expert in Wikipedia  marketing. He consults with legal, governance and risk professionals on Wikipedia, writes corporate Wikis, codes in Wikipedia’s HTML-style language, collaborates with the community and follows Wikipedia’s complex community policies for verification, neutrality, encyclopedic tone and conflict of interest. Also, he regularly speaks, blogs, trains and educates others to raise awareness on the importance of Wikipedia and how corporations can make safe, welcomed contributions. You can download his Wikipedia for Marketing Whitepaper. To contact him call (919) 605-2115.