18/06/2012 09:10 BST | Updated 15/08/2012 06:12 BST

Wikipedia by Numbers Can Be Misleading

PR Week ran an article this week that reported on the EthicalWiki's report 'Brands on Wikipedia by the Numbers'. The report claims that 85% of brands on Wikipedia are poorly represented and the US consultancy behind it has called for brand managers to better understand the site's content needs. It goes on to say "the vast majority of brand pages on Wikipedia are poorly edited".

Some could interpret the points and language used in the article as a prompt to go and edit company pages on Wikipedia, particularly those companies such as LG Corporation and Pepsi Bottling Group that are said to have "low quality" pages.

I would ask all PR professionals to read up on the wider Wikipedia and PR debate before reacting to this call to improve brand pages.

The CIPR partnered with Wikimedia UK, the local chapter behind Wikipedia in the UK, earlier this year following suggestions of undisclosed editing of Wikipedia entries by individual public relations firms. The goal of the partnership is to create mutual understanding for mutual advantage between the two communities. The first step is guidance for public relations professionals outlining how best to engage with the Wikipedia community.

As is evidenced by the debate taking place around the guidance, this undertaking is not one which is universally supported but our efforts remain focused towards collaboration and education. Education is the key issue. That means education of those in our profession and those who are passionately committed to making Wikipedia an accurate and informed source of information.

When the first version of our guidance is released at the end of June, PR professionals will be able to use it as their trusted guide on how best to engage with the Wikipedia community and improve their entries ethically and effectively. The draft guidance will still be active on the Wikimedia UK's site to ensure that we can update the document as and when to provide relevant and timely advice.

Next Wednesday's CIPRTV discussion, with guests Philip Sheldrake, the CIPR's lead on Wikipedia engagement and David Gerard, active volunteer for Wikimedia UK, is on this topic. I'd encourage all interested parties to tune in and participate in the debate.