PR practitioners should not directly edit Wikipedia according to new CIPR guidance

Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)I wouldn’t normally publish a news release verbatim, but this is important and I’m pushed for time this week!

Disclaimer: I’m a founder member of the CIPR Social Media panel that created the new Wikipedia guidance and made a few small suggestions of my own to its development.

Public relations practitioners should not directly edit Wikipedia according to new CIPR guidance

Public relations professionals should not directly edit Wikipedia under any circumstances where they have a conflict of interest and should instead suggest amendments for consideration by Wikipedia’s editors according to new guidance from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

The guidance, which has been developed in collaboration with the Wikipedia community, follows high profile cases where public relations practitioners were found to have edited pages relating to their client’s organisation.

During the consultation period, the guidance, which was hosted on an open wiki on Wikimedia UK, the foundation that supports Wikipedia in the UK, received more than 160 direct edits and more than 120 contributions to the discussion page from both communities. The guidance document, published today, is the first version of a document that will be reviewed and refreshed as the relationship between the Wikipedia and public relations communities continues to progress.

The Wikipedia guidance for public relations practitioners has gained international support from:

· Canadian Public Relations Society

· Public Relations Consultants Association

· Public Relations Institute of Australia

Commenting, CEO of the CIPR Jane Wilson said: ‘This guidance is aimed at helping public relations practitioners reach a better understanding of how to properly engage with one 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 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 have been integral to the delivery of this guidance.

‘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. Such an activity would be unethical and lacking in transparency and therefore potentially against CIPR’s own guidance on digital communication and social media.’

Commenting, 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. The fact that the CIPR’s guidelines are the result of collaboration between Wikipedians and the PR industry is a very good starting point.”

Commenting, Danny Whatmough, chair of the PRCA Digital Skills group, 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.’

Commenting, CEO of the PRIA, Jon Bisset said: ‘In the ever changing landscape in which public relations and communications professionals operate, it is imperative we work together on guidance for delivery of best practice in our industry, across the globe. We are delighted to support the work the CIPR is doing to deliver a solid framework for PRs to engage with Wikipedia and its community to support global best practice.’

– ENDS –

Notes to Editors

About the CIPR

The CIPR is the professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK. With 9,000 members involved in all aspects of public relations, it is the largest body of its type in Europe. The CIPR advances the public relations profession in the UK by making its members accountable through a code of conduct, developing policies, representing its members and raising standards through education and training.

About the Wikipedia guidance

For a copy of the ‘Guidance for Public Relations Professionals Using Wikipedia’ visit the CIPR website.

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About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.

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