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Learning patterns/Developing contacts for press/Photo accreditations

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A learning pattern forphoto events
Developing contacts for press / photo accreditations
problemVolunteer photographers often need accreditations for sport games, cultural events or press conferences. Especially for reoccuring events it is important to build good relationships with the hosts.
solutionDeveloping a professional standard procedure to build trust and sustainable relationships or even partnerships.
created on15:09, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

What problem does this solve?[edit]

Access to important societal, cultural or political events is crucial for the freely accessible documentation of these events for a broader audience. As Wikimedia is not a classical media organization and Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons not classical mass media and usually need some further explanation, it is not always easy to get press or photo accreditations. Wikimedia organizations can assist volunteers in this process by developing professional standard procedures for dealing with the host organizations of such events.

What are the solutions?[edit]

In Austria[edit]

Wikimedia Austria has been supporting volunteers with accreditation requests for many years (approximately 40 per year) and the following learnings have been proven most valuable:

Centralization: We encourage accreditations to be made via the chapter office instead of individual volunteers, as it is quicker, easier and assures a certain standard as procedures are already in place. Also, it makes it easier to coordinate efforts and prevents the situation of various different requests in the name of Wikipedia, which is usually not considered to be very professional.

Standardization: We developed letter / e-mail templates for various occasions which only need minor customization for the respective event. In this template we explain the voluntary nature of our projects, the concept of free licences and the potential impact and reach of Wikimedia projects. Where possible we give examples of successful similar projects or cooperations and samples of our work (e.g. link to similar photos made by our volunteers). Formal organizations are often more trusted than individuals, hence all the correspondence should be as "official" as possible (e.g. including the logo, adress, link to the respective Wikimedia organization) and a contact for further questions. A follow-up via telephone can be helpful after a certain time without feedback.

Sustainability: Often it is worthwhile to follow up on successful accreditations, by sending the host organization links to the results, including directions on how to use them for their own projects. In addition, Wikimedia Austria sends its accreditation partners the annual WMAT calendar as a sign of appreciation once a year (the calendars contain the "best of"-selection of photos from our projects and give a good overview of the oeuvre of our volunteers).

Things to consider[edit]

  • Develop clear procedures and communicate them to all relevant stakeholders (staff, volunteers etc.)
  • Bear in mind that your partner usually deals with classical media organizations and further explanations of concerning Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons and free licenses might be necessary
  • Be aware that post-processing after the event might be helpful or even necessary to build sustainable relations

When to use[edit]

  • Things to consider when asking for an accreditation
  • Managing accreditation requests systematically in a Wikimedia group / organization

In Switzerland[edit]

Wikimedia Switzerland has been getting accreditations for volunteers for several years now, and we've reached a working pattern that distinguishes between two types of volunteers:

  • the occasional request, which is dealt by the office;
  • the "top volunteers", which after a short probation period are empowered with their own @wikimedia.ch address.

This is not necessarily a two-step method: the occasional demand is simply easier/faster to manage on our side, particularly as far as wording goes. People learn quickly and, if they're serious, can just as quickly become self-reliant (we only ask them to keep us posted on the number of requests they make, for statistical purpose). Granting a user with his/her own @wikimedia.ch is a cheap way to empower him/her, and at the end of the day saves us staff time (which also is money). Needless to say, this also requires a high level of trust, and such "power users" are stricly vetted by others (i.e. we do not give an address to someone we haven't physically interacted with and whose work has not already demonstrated value).

Things to consider[edit]

The accreditation process itself
  • Have a template ready with all the important infos to plug in: Event name, address, volunteer's name, purpose of the accreditation;
  • Clearly spell out the word "Wikipedia" somewhere in your introduction. The relationship with Wikimedia is not obvious to everyone;
  • Keep track of all your contacts within different organisations.
For the occasional request (made at the office)
  • Be clear with the volunteer what the aim of the request is (photo, video, etc.);
  • Be clear about his/her responsibility vis-à-vis the Chapter's image;
  • Let him/her know about the {{Supported by Chapter}} template!
In order to empower a volunteer
  • What's his/her track record in terms of contributions and attendance to events?
  • What's the other volunteers' feedback on him/her? Is there any risk that his/her behaviour could tarnish the Chapter's reputation (unpolite, late/absent from meetings without an explanation, etc.)?
  • There is a huge difference between "community feedback" and "volunteer feedback": the latter (i.e. people who already have an address) have a vested interest in keeping things clean by bringing in reliable people.
  • Do not hesitate to be straightforward when it comes to declining a request. "No" is enough, you don't have to justify yourself. There is no entitlement, this is a discretionary policy.

When to use[edit]

Office request
  • When the volunteer is young, fairly inexperienced.
Empowered volunteer
  • As soon as all the lights turn green.


See also[edit]

Related patterns[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Glamorous, show where images from Wikimedia Commons are used on the Wikipedia's