Wikipedia Marketing with Dan Cook [Podcast]

Wikipedia Marketing with Dan Cook [Podcast]

Stop Fearing Wikipedia: Dan Cook’s Advice on this Powerful Platform

Over his thirty-year career, Dan Cook has worked as a staff journalist in five different markets, including stops at the Portland Business Journal and Reuters. That work put him in regular contact with public relations professionals of all stripes, and as he notes early on in this interview with PR Talk host Amy Rosenberg, “I’ve learned how to find the ones who can really deliver and I hang onto them for dear life.”

These days, Dan wears many hats. He covers healthcare and benefits trends for BenefitsPro and Benefits Selling Magazine. In this role he works closely with PR pros and throughout his conversation with Amy offered important insight on how they can work collaboratively with the news media.

Dan also works as a communications consultant for To the Point Collaborative, spending most of his time helping clients navigate through the murky waters of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia as a PR Tool? Dan Says YES!

As a Wikipedia consultant, Dan teaches clients how to ethically write and edit their own articles on the world’s online encyclopedia. Most PR pros understand how valuable a good Wikipedia listing is for their clients, but avoid the platform altogether because of its intimidating environment. But instead of fearing the site, Dan feels strongly that PR pros should learn how to use Wikipedia correctly.  

As Dan explains, Wikipedia is run by a group of volunteer editors who take great pains to ensure that every new article and every new edit meets a tight set of community standards. It’s not uncommon to see poorly written or improperly sourced articles pulled down from the site, or for unscrupulous paid editors to receive outright bans.

Proper sourcing is everything on Wikipedia and many paid editors run into trouble when they try to support what they’ve written with external links. According to Wikipedia’s rules, an article cannot link back to a company’s web page. However, if an article can link to sources that were written and edited by a credible third-party–such as a news outlet–it has a great chance of staying live. In Dan’s view, this is where PR pros can shine.

Whenever possible, PR pros should include important factual information in their press releases like the number of employees, key clients, services areas, etc., even if they’re not related to the main subject of the release. That way, any resulting press coverage could potentially be used to support a company’s Wikipedia page.  

Dan offered these additional tips for PR pros interested in getting started on Wikipedia:

  • Contrary to popular opinion, conflicts of interest and paid editing are NOT banned on Wikipedia. In fact, volunteer editors appreciate paid editors who approach the platform correctly.
  • With this in mind, paid editors should be transparent on Wikipedia by choosing their own usernames and not logging in using client accounts.
  • Articles should be written objectively and refrain from sales messaging.

Through To the Point Collaborative, Dan offers Wikipedia training programs that walk clients through the process of creating a transparent Wikipedia account, writing an ideal article draft, or implementing changes to an existing article. Dan also holds occasional Wikipedia “edit-a-thons” where he walks a group through the process of writing an article from start to finish.

PR pros who would like to add this important skill to their communications toolkit can reach out to Dan for more information.

About the guest: Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a writer and researcher. He is a former Portland Business Journal Editor and Reuters reporter. Was on staff at nonprofits Morrison Child & Family Services and Special Olympics Oregon. Currently, he works with To the Point Collaborative as a copywriter, editor, Wikipedia consultant and communications strategist.

Connect and follow Dan on social media:

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You Are a Marketing Agency…What is Your Specialty?

You Are a Marketing Agency…What is Your Specialty?

People often ask me what Veracity’s specialty is, and the more I try to come up with a concise response, the truth is, maybe there isn’t one. Classic responses could be:

The typical answer:

“We specialize in earned and owned media. Telling our clients’ stories by taking a journalistic approach to sharing what is interesting or newsworthy to their audiences. Traditionally this has been through the media, but now people get their information in a variety of ways, in addition to newspapers, media websites & blogs and TV & radio.

We also support these activities with proactive social media campaigns, advertising and making sure our clients put their best foot forward online with their website and social profiles.”

So you can see that it is a difficult (and often long winded) question to answer, not because we don’t know what we do, but because marketing and PR, the technologies they depend on and the way they are consumed, evolve so quickly.

The quick answer:

“We are a marketing agency that takes a PR approach.”

PR approach? What about the other stuff you do, that’s not PR, right?

Just about every marketing discipline could be considered PR (just ask Amy — she’ll tell you that all marketing disciplines point back to PR). A company’s website is their public face, email marketing reaches your “public,” so does advertising, influencer outreach, etc., etc.

The definition of what is considered “public” these days is vastly different than it was just a few years ago. In the dictionary sense, Public Relations means sharing your message to, and through, the public. This involved traditional media and often centered around journalists working for newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. By contrast, Advertising was buying placement in these outlets, controlling the entire message and being able to say whatever you want (within reason, of course), so the lines formed a bit like this:

Public Relations – earned exposure through a third party

Advertising – bought exposure through a third party

photo by Paul Frenzel via Unsplash

photo by Paul Frenzel via Unsplash

The problem with lines is that they can get blurry.

Where does sponsored content fall? What if we are not specifically paying for it, but providing the content and promotion of that content (and the outlet) to our network as “trade” for space, exposure and a link? How about a promoted Facebook post that provides valued information to the reader? As media types expand, so does our understanding of what really represents a reporter, journalist or advertising salesperson.

Today, a much broader set of individuals can fit any or all of these descriptions — be they editor, publisher, site owner, blogger, topical expert, influencer, celebrity, the local neighborhood gardening expert or any/all of the above. Additionally, the means in which they take ideas for editorial and advertising changes almost daily.

Our job is to attend to all the ways people share and consume information and provide value to our target market — whether that’s through traditional news, social media, or emerging technologies; paid advertising, earned editorial or some combination of them all.

So while I still don’t have a short answer for this question, the basic components of it remain the same and they are that:

We tell relevant stories to the right audience through the most appropriate channels.