The Complex Relationship Between the Wikipedia Community and the PR Industry

Wikipedia, the widely used online encyclopedia, has a complex relationship with the public relations (PR) industry. While both strive to communicate and disseminate information, tensions and disagreements have arisen between the Wikipedia community and PR professionals. This article aims to explore the reasons behind the perceived animosity, the challenges faced by the PR industry when interacting with Wikipedia, and potential avenues for constructive engagement.

Mark Bray
3 min readJul 5, 2023

The Wikipedia community’s reservations toward the PR industry can be attributed to several factors. First, Wikipedia upholds a strict policy of neutrality and reliable sourcing. PR practitioners, often representing organizations or individuals, are perceived as having a vested interest in promoting their clients’ narratives, potentially compromising the platform’s impartiality. Furthermore, past instances of unethical editing, conflicts of interest, and attempts to manipulate content by some PR professionals have eroded trust within the Wikipedia community.

PR professionals encounter several challenges when navigating Wikipedia. The platform’s policies and guidelines can be complex and require a deep understanding to ensure compliance. The notability criteria for creating and maintaining articles can pose difficulties, particularly for emerging businesses or lesser-known individuals. The requirement of secondary sources can also be challenging for PR practitioners seeking to include information from primary sources.

Additionally, the Wikipedia community’s stringent approach to conflict of interest (COI) editing can create obstacles. Editors are discouraged from making direct edits to articles related to their clients or organizations, potentially limiting the ability of PR professionals to contribute to accurate and up-to-date information.

The PR industry has raised concerns about potential bias within Wikipedia. Critics argue that the volunteer-based nature of the platform allows editors with their own biases to influence content. They contend that Wikipedia may be inclined to favor information from established sources and dismiss information from lesser-known or industry-specific sources. These perceived biases can frustrate PR professionals striving to present a comprehensive and accurate portrayal of their clients.

Despite the challenges, opportunities for constructive engagement between the Wikipedia community and the PR industry exist. Building transparent channels of communication can facilitate mutual understanding. The Wikipedia community can provide clear guidelines for PR professionals, clarifying best practices for engagement and editing within the platform’s policies. Likewise, PR professionals can actively seek collaboration and offer their expertise in improving and expanding articles related to their industry.

Encouraging PR professionals to contribute through talk pages and working with experienced Wikipedia editors can promote a more open dialogue. Training programs and workshops specifically tailored for PR professionals can help them navigate Wikipedia’s guidelines effectively. It is a way our agency works, and we feel strongly about the correct ways of engaging with Wikipedia. You can speak to us more here if it is of interest.

Furthermore, developing a stronger feedback mechanism to address potential bias concerns can enhance transparency and reduce misunderstandings. Engaging in discussions and establishing partnerships between the Wikipedia community and the PR industry can foster a more cooperative approach to content creation and maintenance.

The relationship between the Wikipedia community and the PR industry is complex, marked by distrust and challenges. While the Wikipedia community values neutrality and reliable sourcing, it is essential to recognize the valuable expertise and insights that PR professionals can contribute. By fostering greater understanding, improving transparency, and exploring collaborative approaches, both sides can work together to ensure the accuracy, reliability, and inclusivity of information on Wikipedia. Such efforts can create a more constructive environment where PR professionals can contribute responsibly while upholding Wikipedia’s core principles.



Mark Bray

Founder of Wizards of Wiki, a Wikipedia consultancy agency. A Wikipedia consultant since 2011, he has been interviewed by The Financial Times & Entrepreneur.