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Wikipedia for PR

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In a negative scenario, outdated Wikipedia articles or articles overtaken by a controversy section drive traffic away from a brand.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.

Article Creation
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:

  • History
  • Structure
  • 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

Chapter member Ashlene Larson has been selected by The Daily Record to receive one of its 2020 Leading Women awards

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

Ashlene-LarsonBaltimore, 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/.


About Planit
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.

PRSA MD Announces 2021 Slate of Officers

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.


Executive Committee


David Marshall, Ph.D., APR
Professor and ChairDepartment of Strategic Communication
Morgan State University


Vice President

Emily McDermott
Van Eperen



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

Laurie Farrell
President and Owner
Mission Street Communications
Area of Board Responsibility: Sponsorships

Melanie Formentin, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Public Relations
Towson University
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.
Communication Strategist
Applied Development LLC
Area of Board Leadership: Professional Development and Programming

Mary Miles
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

Phillip Yerby
Group Manager
Weber Shandwick
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.

PRSA Maryland announces appointment of Diversity & Inclusion co-chairs

Kaletha Henry

Mary Miles

The Board of Directors for PRSA Maryland has announced Kaletha Henry and Mary Miles will co-chair the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Chapter President Lisa Coster confirmed the appointments today.

“We’re excited to have two new volunteers lead our D&I initiative,” said Coster. “The board is grateful Mary and Kaletha have filled these most important seats.”

Henry is the owner and founder of Be Local Go Global™ – a travel marketing and creative services firm providing communications and public relations to tourism and hospitality boards, destinations and brands. As a veteran in the communications and public relations industry, Henry helps companies, small businesses, and individuals find their voice, tell their stories, generate awareness, build their image and create opportunities to stand apart.

“As the daughter of two forward-thinking educators, I was raised to expect the best from those assigned to teach and prepare me for the road ahead. Instead, my career became a jagged path of twists and turns that exposed me to various levels of discrimination and privilege inside classrooms and boardrooms,” said Henry. “Through these encounters and experiences, I have a heightened awareness and perspective on disparities affecting marginalized groups of people in schools and companies within the United States and abroad. As such, I am determined to help make a difference to equip and empower current and future generations.”

Miles is a Senior Account Manager at Weinberg Harris & Associates, a public relations and communications agency located in historic Hampden. In her role at WHA, Mary oversees day-to-day marketing operations for clients in the retail, real estate, and entertainment sectors and her expertise includes media relations, digital media, event planning, and community partnership development.

“Diversity and inclusion are more than talking points or trends, but an essential journey to acknowledge the differences of human experience and address inequity and injustice wherever possible,” said Miles. “As professional communicators, it is our duty to do the work to unlearn our own biases, educate our leaders and stakeholders on these important issues, and commit to making change. I hope that PRSA-MD’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee will be a resource for members of our industry to learn how to make our profession more inclusive and to influence others to make a commitment to equity, both personally and professionally.”

Henry and Miles will be reaching out to chapter members over the next month to get ideas about how to develop the D & I plan which will be framed around PRSA National D&I Strategic Plan 2020–2022 released in May following nationwide protests around racial inequality.

In June, The Board of Directors for PRSA Maryland issued its own statement about racial injustice following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. The statement outlined four immediate action items for PRSA Maryland. The appointment of Henry and Miles realize one part of this important action plan.

If you would like to participate on the D and I committee, please write us at info@prsamd.org. Your input is welcomed and appreciated.




How can your organization survive this pandemic? Weekly Chat Recap

On Monday, April 13, we focused on finances with John Miller, director, Strategic Advisory and Valuation practice, Chesapeake Corporate Advisors (CCA) and Todd Marks CEO & Founder of Mindgrub. John and Todd talked about the CARES Act as well as offered advice on how our firms can not only survive but thrive during this pandemic.

Listen to the conversation below. And see the recap for some of the highlights.



Payroll Protection Program: covers companies with 500 employers or less that have been impacted by COVID-19

  • Offers eight weeks of payroll – 2x times monthly payroll
  • Can be used for mortgage/other bills; however, 75% must go to payroll
  • The percentage of loan forgiveness depends on # of employees retained
  • Loan portions that are unforgivable can be paid over 2 years at 1% interested; deferred until 2021

Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

  • Requires employers to give up to 12 weeks paid sick leave (provides two-thirds to full pay depending on the circumstances). Sick/vac can be used for more. Advice – Please try to work with employer to adjust schedule to keep working.
  • Relaxes unemployment insurance, increased payout amount.
  • Payroll Tax Relief: For employers that are not eligible for PPR. Offers deferred payment on employers’ tax for payroll. Also available is the tax credit for retaining your employees. Check with your accountant!

Handling cash flow, vendors payments, etc.:

“Double down on marketing. Double down on business development. You need to bring in same amount of work you had before to feed everything else downstream.”

  • Be conservative with cash but also fight. Be creative. Be adaptable. Think forward.
  • Ask yourself how can you serve your current clients, past clients, and possible gain new clients? Reach out and ask … how can you help with their employee’s uncertainty? How can you help with Covid-19 media or stakeholder messaging?
  • Reach out to your customers re: payments. Do they need to pause the contracts? What can you do to help them? Not a time for collections but rather a time for open conversations.
  • Reach out to your landlord, creditors, vendors regarding your circumstances.
  • Make a plan for what will happen on the other side, i.e., financial forecast, daily cash flow.
  • Add a line item to your expense statements for any expenses related to Covid-19.

Final thoughts: Take this time to find the opportunities you may have not thought of before. Rethink your business. Ask how can you maintain your culture virtually? How will we gather differently after this over? How will our model change?

Time will tell.

The chat was only the beginning of a long conversation that we’ll be having for weeks and months to come. To do our part, we’ll be holding weekly virtual meetings to gather and address a variety of topics. Be sure to stay up to date at www.prsamd.org.

Staying Ahead of the Spread – PR and COVID-19

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

By Jeffrey Davis, APR

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) elevated to global pandemic status, the phase of precautionary wait-and-see measures has passed, including for your communications strategy.

Particularly for organizations on the front lines – from seniors housing to tourism to major conferences – how and when you connect about the outbreak is imperative to fostering reassurance and trust.

A public health crisis doesn’t have to send you into a messaging tailspin. Here are rapid response tips on how to prepare:

Employees First
Focus first on internal communications to emphasize safety and share the policies and actions your company is actively taking.

Think beyond a single all-staff email that may go unread and opt for over-communication. Coordinate with HR to use all the available avenues like signs in common areas, social media, infographics and videos.

At our Baltimore office the management team has sent a reassuring visual message with small actions like doubled soap products in the restrooms and wipes and sanitizing cleaner stations in the common areas.

Employees need to know if/how you are encouraging a change in routines such as using technology to decrease unnecessary human contact. Let people know if you endorse work-from-home to prevent contamination and if you have any updated sick leave policies.

Now is also an OK time to highlight how you are helping any coronavirus response efforts, financially or otherwise, and to encourage other companies to follow suit.

Consider the Source
Skip the politics and rhetoric by going straight to trusted institutions, staffed with expert immunologists and doctors, as sources for facts and recommendations.

At the top of the list are the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the World Health Organization.

Remember to keep the tone of your communications strong but temperate, promoting awareness and not panic.

Consult Your Crisis Communications Plan
This is the moment to put your crisis PR plan into motion.

Begin with the crisis communications basics: identification of team members; assignment of tasks; updates to template statements; and verification of current contact information including access to social media/passwords.

Next, look at the possible scenarios specific to your organization and plan accordingly. These could include leadership or employees diagnosed with COVID-19; travel policies and restrictions; impact on production or delivery of products; and questions about executive level decision-making which could be called into question.

Industry organizations are helping members with communications, so take advantage of their expertise.

For example, the U.S. Travel Association posted a holding statement, a set of talking points and a social media guide with sample posts and images specific to coronavirus. One of U.S. Travel’s messages: “The challenge in moments of public health concern is to react properly to the situation, but to not overreact.”

If you delayed or canceled an event you will need to announce the decision quickly. Even more important: if you elected to proceed with an event your messaging is extremely important as the reasoning behind the decision will receive extra attention and scrutiny.

Prepare but Preserve Your Narrative
One of your employees, a family member, or neighboring company could become infected or impacted. If word gets out and connects you in any way to the outbreak you must be prepared for questions – both internal and external – about policies you have in place and the steps you took. You need to have an answer.

Weave into your messaging how you prepared for and came out strong after SARS, Ebola, H1N1 and similar outbreaks in past years. This demonstrates your preparedness and confidence in weathering another outbreak.

At the same time, don’t allow COVID-19 to take over your narrative. Be proactive and ready to answer questions but remember you have broader organizational messages to deliver. Make sure this new topic is part of your ongoing spokesperson prep and is included in your media training exercises.

If you need assistance in messaging, crisis communications planning or getting the word out we are ready to help.

Jeffrey Davis is managing partner with Van Eperen, a Board Member of PRSA Maryland, and  Baltimore editor of Capitol Communicator.

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors