Google SideWiki: What Are the Implications for PR?

Ever since Google SideWiki launched in late September, marketers and PR pros have been watching it with a close eye. Basically, with SideWiki anyone using Google Toolbar can post and view comments on your site. However, the comments reside on the Wiki and not on your actual Website. Eitan Bencuya of Google Corporate Communications tells PRNewser “Google Toolbar has hundreds of millions of users around the world.”

We asked a few digital marketing executives for their take and what they are advising brands to do.

“I have spent a bit of time with SideWiki and what I’m equating it to is graffiti,” said David Bradfield, SVP & Senior Partner and Global Chair of the Digital Practice at Fleishman-Hillard. “You have your controlled property and now you have this conversation appendix that can be really great or really bad. We haven’t had to deal with any such really bad or really good when it comes to SideWiki but it does have major implications. Clients don’t see it as major threat or major opportunity. We see a number of companies taking control of SideWiki’s and aligning them with codes of conduct, tying it to a disclaimer or commenting policy.”

“Despite the newness of this specific concept, best practices still apply to any organization that wants to protect their brand given the newness of SideWiki,” said Erin Byrne, Chief Digital Strategist Burson-Marsteller.

“First, you should monitor SideWiki as it relates to key Webpages for your organization; both from a branded and contextual perspective. Second, you should be ready to engage and respond when necessary – empowering people within your organization to fulfill this function based on areas of expertise and comfort level with social media. Third, use common sense. You can and probably should respond to regular inquiries, comments and gently correct honest mistakes.”

Meanwhile, Tom Barnes of agency MediaThink outlined the following five-step plan SideWiki reputation plan.

Step 1: For the love of all things holy: Get there first.

Step 2: Welcome constructive comments in SideWiki itself.

Step 3: Monitor continually.

Step 4: Report every abuse.

Step 5: Follow traditional crisis management fundamentals. Plan messaging in advance.