Thursday, August 18, 2005

Wikipedia's place in marketing

As some of you know in addition to PRR I also write the Movie Marketing Madness blog. Well the other day I posted by thoughts on the use of the Wikipedia and other communal information outlets for outright marketing. Since it might also be of interest to this audience (all five of you) I thought I'd repost it here.

Before I do that, though, I wanted to call out Eric Tatro, who posted something similar here. His PR Nerve Center blog is a great read and you should definitely check it out. Anyway, on with the post...

Using and abusing the Wikipedia

I've been sitting on this one for a while but still wanted to address it. Chris Abraham wondered whether the Wikipedia would be the next front for promoting new TV shows, movies or other popular culture. For anyone who may have read Abraham's post and thought it sounded like a good idea I have one word: DON"T!!

The Wikipedia is supposed to be a community effort where people can go for unbiased and factual information untouched by spin and promotion. In fact, the guidelines for submission specifically state this. There's a difference between viral marketing, where you plant something that gets passed around via word-of-mouth and grassroots marketing, where there's a popular groundswell over an issue. The difference is who's in control. With viral campaigns the guiding hand is still those "officials" who created or are overseeing the campaign. Grassroots efforts are firmly controlled by the general citizenry. It's best to make sure official sources don't interfere with grassroots efforts since often they do nothing but muck them up.

If someone starts a Wikipedia entry, a fan-blog or any other sort of communal or citizen effort because they enjoy your TV show, movie, record or anything else you should reach out to them and acknowledge their support and hard work - even link to them off of an official site. But don't get involved in creating them. It reeks of the old days where movie marketers would leave breathless praise for a movie on a message board, only to be outed and discredited within days (or hours) and have whatever good will the movie may have engendered smashed to bits. Let the ordinary folk have their tools for spreading enthusiasm and fan excitement.