MONDAY 9 JAN 2012 11:45 AM


The CIPR has announced a new partnership with Wikipedia UK, which will aim to provide PR professionals with guidance on how to interact with the Wikipedia community. This follows recent suggestions of undisclosed editing of Wikipedia entries by individual public relations firms, including the revelation that Bell Pottinger had altered Wikipedia entries for clients.

The CIPR feels that despite the fact that many PR firms have policies on editing online resources in line with the CIPR's Social Media Guidance and also follow community guidelines, there is a need to take action to further clarify the position specifically in relation to Wikipedia.

Jane Wilson, CIPR CEO, comments, “The CIPR has clear ethical and practical guidance on the most appropriate manner for PR professionals to work with open, online communities such as Wikipedia. It is not only important they are upfront about who they are and their intentions, but they should seek to deal openly and honestly with the public at all times. This rules out any behaviour that sets out to hide the true source or motivation for any updates.”

As part of this new initiative, the CIPR plans to conduct training on how communications professionals can work within Wikipedia’s guidelines.

Wilson continues, “I am delighted Wikipedia will be working with us on this. There is a need to develop understanding of the mutual advantages of open, transparent engagement with the public through Wikipedia.”

Commenting, Roger Bamkin, chair of Wikimedia UK (the UK branch of the Wikimedia Foundation, which is the charity that runs Wikipedia), says, “Recent incidents highlighted by Tom Watson MP and in the national press show that in some parts of the PR profession, a lack of understanding on how to engage with the Wikipedia community persists. We will work with the CIPR to ensure that their members, and through them the wider PR Profession, have access to the clearest possible guidance on the best way to work with Wikipedia. We believe that attempts to mask the true identity of anyone seeking to edit the site are unethical as well as counterproductive.”