Last week, I was in a new business meeting with a potential client who had a definite opinion about PR people and Wikipedia – they don’t mix, period. Today I read this guest post on Todd Defren’s blog PR Squared that basically had the same message. I disagreed last week, and I disagree today – while I am by no means a Wikipedia expert, I can’t see how it makes sense that people charged with communicating (yep, that’s us) should not consider Wikipedia a viable channel for communication.
Now, I totally understand that Wikipedia is a different animal. It’s not a marketing platform. It’s not a place to share “approved messaging.” There are definite rules for engagement that need to be respected and followed, and what’s shared should be just the facts of the matter. But since when do PR people not have the facts about their clients? Since when are we not sharing valid information about clients that people need to know, or might expect to find out on a site like Wikipedia? And who else is going to remember that “Hey, Bluetooth version 4.0 was approved today, while we’re letting the world know it’s now available to be used in product development we better make sure to update Wikipedia”? While I love them, it’s usually not our clients that remember to do that – it’s us. The majority of the time, we remind them and they do it themselves, but if they asked us to do it I would have no qualms about doing so.
I am a believer in transparency. I am a believer in empowering our clients to present themselves to their best abilities. And I am a believer in doing good work. What I said in last week’s new biz meeting and thought when I saw today’s post still stands: PR people that have caused others to think PR and Wikipedia shouldn’t mix are just not good at their jobs.