Forced transparency: corporate image on Wikipedia and what it means for public relations

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Forced transparency: corporate image on Wikipedia and what it means for public relations
Authors: Marcia W. DiStaso, Marcus Messner [edit item]
Citation: Public Relations Journal 4 (2): . 2010 Spring.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
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Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
Added by Wikilit team: Yes
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Forced transparency: corporate image on Wikipedia and what it means for public relations is a publication by Marcia W. DiStaso, Marcus Messner.


[edit] Abstract

Collaboratively edited information on social media that circumvents traditional media gatekeepers poses a challenge to public relations practitioners. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia gives corporate critics the opportunity to shape the public image of major corporations. This longitudinal panel study analyzed the framing of 10 Fortune 500 companies on Wikipedia between 2006 and 2010. It was found through content analyses of tonality and topics of more than 3,800 sentences in the articles for Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil, General Motors, Ford, General Electric, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Citigroup, AIG, and IBM that the negativity increased over time and that the focus shifted from historical information to legal concerns and scandals. The findings show that public relations practitioners need to pay close attention to the forced transparency about their companies on Wikipedia.

[edit] Research questions

"What potential influence do corporate Wikipedia articles have? How is public opinion formed on corporate Wikipedia articles? Has the length of corporate Wikipedia articles changed over time? How has the tone of corporate Wikipedia articles changed over time? How has the tone of individual corporate Wikipedia articles changed over time? How have the topics of corporate Wikipedia articles changed over time? How have the topics of individual corporate Wikipedia articles changed over time? How have the topics for positive and negative content in corporate Wikipedia articles changed over time? How have the topics for positive and negative content of individual corporate Wikipedia articles changed over time?"

Research details

Topics: Other content topics, Commercial aspects, Ranking and popularity [edit item]
Domains: Business, Communications [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Main topic [edit item]
Theories: [edit item]
Research design: Content analysis, Statistical analysis [edit item]
Data source: Computer usage logs, Websites, Wikipedia pages [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Longitudinal [edit item]
Unit of analysis: Article [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: Live Wikipedia [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: Article [edit item]
Wikipedia language: English [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

[edit] Comments


Further notes[edit]

Research design: longitudinal panel study

Data source: Wikipedia pages, search engine ranking, number of articles view (web usage logs)

Summary

See also notes on Brede Wiki for the article.

Ranking and popularity

In their study on corporate image on Wikipedia DiStaso and Messner examined ranking of corporate Wikipedia article about 10 companies through 4 years on 3 Internet search engines. In 2006 they found all Wikipedia companies on all three search engines in the top 20. In 2010 corporate Wikipedia articles had gained prominence and were all in top ten, leading the researchers to conclude that Wikipedia corporate articles to be "very influential".

Commercial aspects

Corporate Wikipedia articles have high prominence and as such may easily affect the corporate image. In DiStaso and Messner study, where 10 companies were analyzed in 2006, 2008 and 2010, the Internet search engine prominence of corporate Wikipedia articles increased, the tone changed for some companies in negative direction and the percentage of topics on, e.g., "legal concerns/scandals" also increased. It let the researchers to conclude that "the monitoring of Wikipedia in public relations should be included in all social media plans".

Other content topics

Through content analysis DiStaso and Messner investigate corporate Wikipedia articles on 10 Fortune 500 companies. They analyzed the opinion expressed, the length and the topic and how it changed over time. Among their findings was that negative topics in 2010 tended to involve legal issue, while positive topics involved corporate social responsibility or performance issues.