Institute says guidance will 'build mutual understanding'
Editorial assistant on CorpComms Magazine
The rule that PRs should not directly edit Wikipedia pages relating to their organisation or brand is the most important part of the new guidelines on Wikipedia use for PRs, according to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations professionals (CIPR).
The CIPR initially drafted the guidelines. The institute said that during the consultation period the document received more than 160 direct edits and more than 120 contributions to the discussion page.
The advent of clear guidelines has arrived after several incidents occurred in the national press referring to the use of the 'dark arts' by PR firms on Wikipedia, whereby some manipulated Wikipedia entries to favour an organisation or an individual.
PRs are reminded that this use of the online encyclopedia is in fact the 'antithesis of best practice public relations. Intentional deceit and anonymous or incognito activities are breaches of professional codes of conduct.'
'This guidance is aimed at helping public relations practitioners reach a better understanding of how to properly engage with one of the most visited sources of information on the internet and clearly lays out the process through which PR people can positively contribute to the encyclopedia,' commented Jane Wilson, the chief executive of the CIPR.
Wilson continued: 'The main theme of the guidance is quite simple - where there is a clear conflict of interest created by the relationship between the public relations professional and the subject of the Wikipedia entry, such as a client or employer, they should not directly edit it.
'The fact that so many prestigious PR bodies have backed the guidance is testimony to the quality of the work and I'd like to pay tribute to the CIPR Social Media panel which has been integral to the delivery of this guidance.'
Jon Davies, chief executive of Wikimedia UK, said: 'I'm pleased that the PR industry is taking steps to learn more about Wikipedia and how it works. The fact that the CIPR's guidelines are the result of collaboration between Wikipedians and the PR industry is a very good starting point.'