by Josh Greene, The Mather Group, LLC
It’s been a long time since Wikipedia was simply a website kids were actually told not to use for their essays and book reports. Now the behemoth encyclopedia is the second most visited website in the U.S. and the third most visited site in the world. It’s become a trusted reference, and is always listed on the first page of Google’s search results – if a page relating to the search term exists, that is; and, with over 6 million English articles, one almost always does.
What does this mean for the world of PR marketing?
In a positive scenario, Wikipedia articles for businesses and individuals promote visibility and drive traffic to a brand’s website, helping create a positive public image. Thanks to Wikipedia’s top billing on Google SERPs, an article can even help to push down any negative press results.
In a negative scenario, outdated Wikipedia articles or articles overtaken by a controversy section drive traffic away from a brand. This is what we all want to avoid.
While complicated, Wikipedia isn’t impossible to navigate. Here’s what you need to know about Wikipedia to leverage its power for good.
While it might seem like anything and everything under the sun has a Wikipedia article, there are guidelines to follow when creating a new one. First and foremost, the article must meet Wikipedia’s notability guidelines. In a nutshell, this means that you must be able to prove that your topic has been significantly covered by trusted, third-party sources. For an article of only a few paragraphs, this means finding 3-5 news sources that devote an entire article to your topic. For a longer article, you’ll need 5+ sources.
If you’re curious about what to include and/or how to organize your article, go and check out some competitors’ articles. Depending on the topic, it’s typical to see sections such as:
- Activities / Areas of Service
- Affiliates / Subsidiaries
- Special Interest Areas (significant charity work, a second career, hosting a well-known podcast, etc.)
You cannot use primary sources, whether creating a new article or editing an existing one. Say goodbye to hopes of copying+pasting your “About Us” page or your favorite press releases and calling it a day. Wikipedia editors will jump all over that and cover your article in flags – if they don’t simply recommend it for a speedy deletion. Flags can alert someone that there’s a suspected COI on the page, or that the page uses too many primary sources, has multiple issues, is written like an advertisement, etc. Flags are at the top of an article and tell everyone that there are concerns about some information in the article.
Editing an Article
Once you’ve gathered your sources, it’s time to draft content. Anything added to the page should be fact-based, neutral in tone, and added with the intent of bringing the page up-to-date and/or correcting errors. The best way to add content is to move slow and steady, so you’ll need to prioritize content in terms of must-have, nice-to-have, and your ultimate wish list.
You can directly edit the article yourself, although Wikipedia prefers that anyone who works at a company/for an individual leaves the editing of that article to someone else. If that’s the case, you can visit the article’s Talk page, share a sentence or two at a time of your drafted content and the applicable sources, and request that another editor make the change.
If you’re drafting a brand new article, the process is similar. Visit Wikipedia’s Request an Article page and share why you think a topic needs its own article, and provide content and sources.
Removing Negative Content (aka the Dreaded Controversies Section)
If you’re a PR professional, this is probably high on your list of priorities. While there isn’t an easy way to strip a page of negative content, there are a few different options.
- You cannot simply delete content, even if it isn’t sourced or it uses non-trusted sources (someone’s blog, for example). If you do want to delete false or misleading information, be sure to include a note in the Talk section of the page as to why the information was inappropriate for a Wikipedia article.
- You can review the content and see if it can be edited in any way so as to minimize the implications – i.e. were claims proven false? Did the controversy happen five years ago and a brand has since gone above and beyond to address the initial issue and create a better path forward?
- You can propose additional info to the page so that the controversies section gets pushed farther down, or gets lost in the middle. Remember that all content must be factual and neutral.
Monitoring an Article
Whatever stage of the process you are in, don’t forget to consistently monitor your Wikipedia article. Articles can be edited at any time and you want to always ensure that your page accurately reflects your brand. There are different monitoring tools available, including:
- Wiki Alert: an extension that can be added to your browser and connected to your Watchlist. You’ll receive an alert every time that an article you follow is updated
- Wikipedia’s Emailing Tool: this allows you to be alerted anytime one of your tracked articles is edited. Each article can only be tracked by one account and one email address.
Ad Agency Leader Ashlene Larson Named One of Maryland’s 2020 Leading Women
The Daily Record Recognizes the Next Generation of Maryland’s Women Leaders
Baltimore, Md., (October 15, 2020) — The Daily Record selected Ashlene Larson, director of public relations and social media for the award-winning, Baltimore-based advertising agency, Planit, to receive one of its 2020 Leading Women awards.
“This year’s Leading Women are professionally accomplished, involved in their communities and committed to making a difference and inspiring change,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, group publisher of The Daily Record. “They are the next generation of leaders in Maryland, and The Daily Record is pleased to recognize their achievements.”
The Daily Record’s Leading Women awards honor women who are 40 years of age or younger for the accomplishments they have made so far in their careers. A panel of previous Top 100 Women and Leading Women winners selected the honorees based on their professional experience, community involvement and commitment to inspiring change.
“We are thrilled, but not surprised, that Ashlene was named to this year’s Leading Women honorees,” said Matt Doud, president and co-founder of Planit. “While she certainly brings a unique and critical perspective to the field of public relations, resulting in worldwide news stories for our clients, it is her passion – her commitment – to mentoring the next generation of PR professionals and her never-ending crusade to elevate working moms that make her an invaluable leader. Ashlene has helped architect policies for the betterment of all employees at Planit while simultaneously serving as a changemaker, a mentor, and an unstoppable force in our industry.”
Larson moved to Baltimore from Canada in 2009 during a recession, continuing a career in PR where she immediately had to assimilate to an entirely different country, American culture, and the PR/media market. Ten years later, Larson leads an award-winning PR team at Planit. Due to her strategic leadership and vision, Planit’s PR & Social Team won the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Maryland’s 2019 PR Team of the Year.
Larson is an active pillar in the community. She is a volunteer within the PR and advertising agency, but also within the community via Girl Scouts and St. Vincent de Paul. She currently serves on the Board of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) of Baltimore, a position held since 2015, where she also chairs the PR Committee and is the current Second Vice President. Through this volunteerism, she has traveled to Annapolis on behalf of the Federation’s members and the advertising community to oppose a digital tax, which was recently voted down. Larson is a published thought leader featured in WYPR, the Baltimore Business Journal, the Baltimore Sun, and more. She also gives back to the industry through speaking engagements with Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Maryland and the AAF on the topics of crisis communications and PR, and by serving as a judge for the PRSA Maryland ARC Awards in 2019.
To view The Daily Record’s complete list of Maryland’s 2020 Leading Women, visit https://thedailyrecord.com/leading-women/winners/.
We’re Planit. A strategic, digitally-minded agency that leads revolutions for national and global clients. Whether that’s through a variety of media channels, PR, social, or the “next big thing”—if it isn’t bold, creative, and smart, we’re not doing our job. That’s why clients including Royal Building Products, Kiddie Academy, Sheetz, Barclays US, and The AMES Companies trust Planit. And that’s why we continue to receive stellar industry recognition, including being named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur 360™ List, winning the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award, and Advertising Age’s Small Agency of the Year.
Each year, PRSA Maryland Chapter installs a new board of directors and member volunteers who work together to ensure the Chapter achieves its mission, plans professional programs, and grows membership. Today, the Chapter is pleased to present you with the slate for the 2021 board of directors for your review.
Click here for full bios.
David Marshall, Ph.D., APR
Professor and ChairDepartment of Strategic Communication
Morgan State University
Tracy Imm, M.S., M.B.A.
Founder Tracy Imm Worldwide, LLC
Renata Allen, M.B.A.
Director, Scheduling & Events
Baltimore City Community College
Immediate Past President
Lisa Brusio Coster, MA.
Coster Communications, Ltd.
Nikki Bracy, M.S.M.
PR & Social Media Supervisor
Area of Board Responsibility: Communications
Jeffrey A. Davis, APR
J. Davis Public Relations, LLC
Area of Board Responsibility: Communications
President and Owner
Mission Street Communications
Area of Board Responsibility: Sponsorships
Melanie Formentin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Public Relations
Areas of Board Responsibility: PRSSA Liaison
Dianna Fornaro, M.A, APR
Senior Communications Specialist
Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
Area of Board Leadership: Accreditation (APR)
Kaletha Henry, M.F.A.
Be Local Go Global
Area of Board Leadership; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Lisa Lance, M.A.
Director of Communications and Marketing
Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
Area of Board Leadership: Membership
Tia Malloy, M.S.
Applied Development LLC
Area of Board Leadership: Professional Development and Programming
PR & Digital Strategist
Weinberg Harris & Associates
Area of Board Leadership: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Anthony Naglieri, M.P.A
Chief of Staff & Head of Communications
Area of Board Leadership: Community Service and Engagement
Area of Board Leadership: Membership
Assembly Delegates serve as
1) the Chapter’s representatives at PRSA Leadership Assembly, and
2) liaison between the Society and Chapter.
Cathy E. Nyce, M.A.
Marketing and Communications, Maryland Auto Insurance
Kenneth R. Smith, APR
Global Sales and Strategy Communications
PRSA Maryland Chapter members:
Voting for the 2021 board of directors will commence on November 9 via Survey Monkey. Please watch your inbox for your chance to vote.
If you are interested in holding a leadership position within PRSA Maryland or running for any of the board seats above, please contact info@PRSAMD.org within the next 30 days.
We are also seeking volunteers to chair or be part of a committee. Not sure why you should volunteer? Finding your place in PRSA Maryland will answer a few of your questions. You can also click here to take a simple poll.