Communications and Media Relations involves raising awareness about the Wikimedia movement, projects, and volunteers with a broader public audience. This can include: educating the public about the Wikimedia movement and projects, working with the press, proactively offering stories to media organizations, participating in interviews, building messages, drafting announcements, correcting inaccuracies, responding (and understanding when not to respond) to negative media coverage, leveraging social media and blogs, and more.
Building awareness and educating the public about the movement: Most people outside the Wikimedia community don’t fully understand how Wikipedia and the other projects work or what the movement actually is. Often, any communication with the public first calls for basic education about the projects and movement.
Working with the press: Both Wikimedia organizations and individual community members have interactions with traditional media, due to either proactive outreach (e.g. intentionally seeking press attention) or reactive responses (e.g. responding to an inquiry from a reporter). Some shared challenges across organizations and individuals can include several common themes: how to pitch a reporter, to correct inaccuracies, or to hold an effective interview. These shared challenges also include when to not engage traditional media (e.g. when a media request might be better suited for an email response rather than a live interview).
Using social media effectively: Many communities have multiple forms of social media, used for both outreach and community building.
Lack of resources: Consistent, readily available resources such as answers to common questions from the press, press release templates, or talking points on specific subjects sometimes do not exist, or are scattered across wikis. For individual community members dealing with the press on short notice or for the first time, the absence of these basic resources can make interactions with the press more challenging.
Developing strong, consistent messaging: The Wikimedia community is complex and diverse, making our shared coordination around messaging for Wikimedia events, announcements, changes, and other movement-related subjects difficult.
These potential approaches will focus on addressing the challenges of movement-related work in basic communications and media relations. For more advanced challenges or needs, the Communications Committee mailing list may be a good resource.
Provide general materials for community members interested in building capacity, for example a list of answers to frequently asked questions from the press; a press release template for all chapters and thematic organizations to use when announcing movement-related events.
Develop media training material and connect community members with media training experts for community members to gain skills in communicating with the media in interviews, correspondences, etc.
Create and regularly update talking points on movement-related topics in the news (e.g. public policy, cases of vandalism, Wikimedia announcements, etc.)
Sketch of a possible capacity-building project
lack of experience with media relations
Train local volunteers in basic media relations skills
1 to 2 months
Means and resources
WMF funding for training (travel, venue, trainer fee); WMF assistance in identifying and briefing local trainer; WMF creation of complementary materials for trainings, for example talking points
3-4 months after training, review communications activities by community, assess community satisfaction