A semi-recurring theme of this semi-recurring blog is the extent to which public relations practices have become newsworthy parts of corporate management coverage - alongside mainstays human resources, financial management and supply chain management.
Unfortunately, most of the time PR Makes News, it is for the wrong reasons and so we arrive today at Amar Toor's Verge article on how Texas firm Wiki-PR had been engaging in paid editing of the open-source encylcopedia.
With the exception of poorly moderated Yahoo! Finance chat boards, very little makes thin-skinned corporate management teams more upset than critical WikiPedia entries and PRs both well-meaning and nefarious have been fencing with the the site for years to defend their charges.
The firm, Wiki-PR, is believed to have created more than 300 fake accounts used to edit Wikipedia pages — a practice known as "sockpuppeting" — thereby threatening the principles of objectivity and neutrality that the encyclopedia was founded upon.
It seems self-evident but I'll say it anyway: if that's your answer to the public criticizing you via any kind of social media, then you've already lost the skirmish, battle and war for your reputation.
Engagement is the way to respond to unfair WikiPedia edits, whether you are JP Morgan, Exxon, Wal-Mart or Planned Parenthood, make your case. Use the money you spent on sock-puppeting PR firms to buy key words that place your rebuttal in the same searches as the offending article, or tweet the truth back at critics.
What I find further annoying as a 20+ year agency public relations professional is that Wiki-PR is trying to make money for nothing, and not in the really cool way.
Creating sock-puppet accounts that say what you want them to say isn't working. You aren't convincing anyone to do anything, persuading any skeptics or writing great words of wisdom - all of the stuff PR people do that's actually difficult to accomplish.
This firm has picked the lowest possible aspect of the service, targeting the lowest possible level of client, and specialized in it.
Hopefully, bad publicity will kill them. FYI to WikiPP, comments are moderated and must be approved by me to appear on this page. I'll know if it's you.