Study finds PRs unable to correct Wikipedia entries for clients

A study by Marcia W. DiStaso, published in the Public Relations Society of America’s journal, has found that PR companies run into difficulties when trying to fix errors on the Wikipedia entries for their clients. The difficulty exists because Wikipedia does not allow editing of its entries by people paid to advocate for an individual or company, although it does allow for the correction of minor mistakes.

The research found that 60 per cent of PRs surveyed had found mistakes in Wikipedia pages relating to their clients. These mistakes included spelling errors, historically inaccurate information, financial errors and date errors. Despite the prevalence of these errors, there was a lot of confusion among PRs as to how to correct them and 24 per cent said that they had requested to make changes and had received no reply.

The author of this survey has concluded that Wikipedia needs to be more flexible in allowing PR companies to fix inaccurate information on behalf of clients. For PR companies, reputation management is a vital task and they know that even seemingly trivial errors can cause problems.

Anyone familiar with running a website will be able to appreciate the need to take control over matters of accuracy. Small errors such as spelling mistakes or errors with sums of money can make a huge difference to commercial sites, for example. Many companies use copywriters to ensure that their web content is well written and checked for any inaccuracies before it goes online, avoiding situations like the Wikipedia problem.

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