WEDNESDAY 27 JUN 2012 2:18 PM


The CIPR has launched a guidance document for public relations professionals for using Wikipedia, following criticism of the industry for editing client pages without disclosing their professional interests.

A section in the guidance is in fact titled “Dark Arts” on Wikipedia, using the phrase that appeared on the front page of the Independent in December 2011. The CIPR reminds readers of that section that ‘“dark arts” are the antithesis of best practice public relations’.

“The main theme of the guidance is quite simple,” said Jane Wilson, CEO of the CIPR. “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 [the public relations professional] should not directly edit it.” The guidance suggests that instead PR professionals should suggest amendments to the editors who work on updating Wikipedia’s millions of pages.

The document, which is in its first version and will be updated in the future, was originally drafted by the CIPR and hosted on Wikimedia UK. It was supported by the PRCA, among other public relations bodies, and Danny Whatmough, chairman of the PRCA Digital Skills Group, said that the PRCA encourages updating the guidance: “This collaborative process will ensure PR agencies have clear guidance and will help them develop better relationships with members of the Wikimedia community.”