The UK's Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has today unveiled a guide advising PR people on how to approach article on Wikipedia. The central advice to PR advisors is that they should never directly edit Wikipedia pages that relate to themselves their organisation or the companies and individuals that they do PR for. Instead they should use the Wikipedia network to make suggested amendments to Wikipedians, the active Wikipedia editors, who will then decide if the amendments are valid.
This clear guidance, coming directly from the industry's own Chartered Institute should put an end to the alleged editing of Wikipedia pages by some well established PR firms.
A consultation was hosted on Wikimedia UK which received more than 160 direct edits. The guidance document published by the CIPR today will continue to be reviewed as the relationship between Wikipedia and the PR communities evolves. The guidance is supported by the Canadian Public Relations Society, the Public Relations Consultants Association in the UK and the Public Relations Institute of Australia.
CIPR Chief Executive Officer Jane Wilson, said: "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 encyclopaedia. 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."
Commenting, Danny Whatmough of the PRCA, said: "These guidelines represent an important step forward in improving the relationship between the PR industry and Wikipedia. We would encourage PR professionals, and PRCA members in particular, to review the guidelines and get involved in the discussion. This collaborative process will ensure PR agencies have clear guidance when using Wikipedia and will also help them develop better relationships with members of the Wikimedia community."
Jane Wilson added "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."
Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK Jon Davies, said: "I'm pleased that the PR industry is taking steps to learn more about Wikipedia and how it works."