Using Wikipedia, best places for product launches, more

Can Wikipedia be an effective tool to use for PR work?

Wikipedia
Can Wikipedia be an effective tool to use for PR work?
When advising clients on how to build their Wikipedia presence, you should find trusted third-party users who contribute in your clients' industry, and then help clients build relationships with them, suggests Marie Williams, of Shift Communications.

"Unless you want your entry flagged or deleted, clients should never edit the page beyond adding hard numbers or objective facts," she says. "Descriptive prose or detailed explanations should be left to the community to provide."

Given the stigma around PR's involvement in Wikipedia, you should avoid directly involving yourself in the process, Williams advises. Instead, it is beneficial to have your clients contact the users through their talk pages.

"Clients should explain to the user that due to their previous Wikipedia contributions, they might be interested in contributing to the page," she explains, adding that honesty is key. "Above all, it's important to be transparent and make it clear you're not trying to game the system."

Launches
What is the best place to conduct a new product or company introduction?
There are various places to introduce a new product or company, explains Patrick Ward, chief strategic officer at 104 West Partners. However, today's media pros are often incredibly busy, so trying to break through the clutter of their everyday work can pose a challenge, he adds.

"But if you can launch a company or product at a specific venue that attracts media anyway, it can be highly productive," Ward says.

For example, at a conference or trade show, it is likely the media is looking to cover developments, so they may be predisposed to a launch story. These platforms can also provide context for the company and its product to attract the media and reporters, he explains.

Press-only events attached to major trade shows are another solid option. Ward says significant costs are often associated with these events. You must also be prepared for stiff competition from other attending companies and products, but they are worth going to.

All that said, "events like these can offer a great opportunity to launch a product or company," Ward adds.

Media interaction
How should PR agencies prepare their clients for discussing the economy with journalists?
The future of our economy is debatable, but media inquiries on the subject are certainly on the rise, notes Mike Snyder, CEO of Associated.

When dealing with your clients, many of whom may be the leaders in their respective industries, Snyder says it is important to simply give them standard counsel. "Discuss what you know and be honest."

Snyder adds that too many media responses are based solely on speculation. A better approach is to discuss your business "today," while referencing relevant benchmarks.

He notes the importance of admitting the obvious in certain situations, such as when year-to-year orders are down, or when you are hiring to meet demand, laying off employees, or simply reducing overhead costs.

Snyder stresses that you should always state the truth - in good times as well as in bad - and emphasize proactive plans and steps necessary to take in the future, all of which communicate a message of "hope with action."

Send your questions to:
toolbox@prweek.com. Please contact Beth Krietsch if yiou are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns. Toolbox is available online at PRWeek.com.

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