Smart agencies are waking up to the wiki's advantages

A wiki is a website that allows users to collaboratively add and edit content.

A wiki is a website that allows users to collaboratively add and edit content.

From the Hawaiian word meaning quick, fast, or to hasten, it can do just that to the most mundane PR tasks, from editing press releases to updating media lists. Instead of sending a press release around to team members for editing, the release can sit on the Web site, where approved users can work on it at any given time, not waiting for it to appear in their in-boxes.

Much like a company intranet allows approved users to view certain documents, the wiki allows people to edit and add information to those documents on the Web page itself.

"You can have 10 people in 10 different offices, and they can all have access to and work on the same document," says Giovanni Rodriguez, EVP with Redwood City, CA-based Eastwick Communications. "It's a great collaboration tool. It eliminates a lot of mind-numbing e-mails. You don't need to e-mail someone every time you want to make an update. You just do it."

Rodriguez says using wikis has helped the firm become more efficient, and it has liberated the staff to focus on more important things. It has also helped with communications between the agency and client teams.

"Wikis are the easiest and most inexpensive way to collaborate without creating an intranet," adds Mike Manuel, online strategist for Palo Alto, CA-based Voce Communications. Users can set up wikis much like they set up blogs, through password-protected third-party Web sites.

Voce clients, including Yahoo and Unisys, use wikis, and it has helped streamline the fundamental elements of account management, such as calendars and schedules, Manuel says.

The agency also uses wikis as a workplace for the team that works with Yahoo, so all meeting notes and information are saved on the wiki and are accessible to be viewed and updated by a specific group of people.

"E-mail isn't as effective as it used to be," adds Manuel. "Wikis let you be more efficient. But it does not replace anything. It just augments what we already do."

KEY POINTS:

Wikis enable PR teams to collaborate on and update any number of projects

Wikis allow for faster collaboration by allowing people to work on documents without waiting for them to be e-mailed

Wikis work particularly well for smaller firms that can't afford to set up client intranets

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