The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), the U.K.’s professional association for PR pros, has issued guidance for the industry that states PR pros shouldn’t edit Wikipedia entries where there is a conflict of interest. Instead, they should suggest those edits to Wikipedia editors.
The guidance is an ongoing work-in-progress, with further changes and enhancements expected as time goes on.
Bell Pottinger got into trouble back in December for admitting on secret video footage that they alter Wikipedia entries, among other “dark arts.”
“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,” CIPR CEO Jane Wilson said in a statement.
The guidance has gotten the thumbs up from a number of PR organizations around the world, including the Public Relations Society of America, PRSA, which issued a statement commending the CIPR, but also supporting ongoing change.
Research released in April shows that many PRs have found errors in Wikipedia entries and, even when they do contact Wikipedia, they have a hard time getting corrections made.
To read the guidance in its entirety, click here.