Wikipedia: The Friend and Foe of a PR Pro

“Wikipedia is an example of the fact that companies cannot always control what others say and publish about them.”

The reading for week 10 on Wikipedia and its role in public relations was quite insightful. I had no idea how complex the process of correcting information or having information about an organization be removed from the site could be prior to reading this article.

As a newly practicing PR professional, I am aware of the value that sites like Wikipedia has for organizations. Because it is a website that is majority edited by the public, not the organization itself, it is a platform for organizations to understand just how they are perceived in the public’s eye. I appreciate the fact that sites like Wikipedia forces organizations to be transparent because it forces them to be accountable for how they operate and interact with the world.

However, the dangers are equally valid since almost anyone can post something that will be published for everyone to see, as long as they have a valid citation. The idea that there is such a drawn out process for an organization to weigh in on what has been said about them (in terms of it being factually incorrect, or outright false) is scary for those who continually have to carry out damage control within an entity.

I believe that Wikipedia has the potential to do more good than harm, as long as the intentions of an organization remain pure towards improving humanity through their products and services. With that said, it is the PR professional’s duty to help continuously guide an organization in the direction of social responsibility. By monitoring sites like Wikipedia, and ensuring that the organization is in alignment with its overall intentions as a contributor of service and goods, and overall better quality of life, the PR professional can do just that.

But that’s just my opinion. What do you think? Friend or Foe? Or both?


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