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Ideally, you want someone with a neutral point of view editing Wikipedia entries, not PR firms clandestinely gussying up their client’s pages.
PR has a conflict of interest. But that doesn't mean they can't also help improve the accuracy of Wikipedia entries or that they shouldn't have a right to do so.
It’s been an issue for a while now, because if a PR representative wants to alert a Wikipedia editor to an inaccuracy on a client’s entry, there’s no clear process for ethical engagement.
In January 2012, Phil Gomes (@philgomes) wrote an open letter to Jimmy Wales to initiate a rational discussion about how public relations can effectively contribute to Wikipedia entries. Shortly thereafter, he and John Cass formed Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement (CREWE).
In February 7, 2014, William Beutler (@BeutlerInk) managed to convene a meeting of digital leaders for the world’s leading PR agencies, academics and Wikipedia editor volunteers to address issues of transparency and disclosure surrounding the ethical participation of corporate representatives to improve the accuracy of their respective entries.
On June 16, 2014, Edelman, Ogilvy & Mather, Burson-Marsteller, FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, PNConnect, Peppercomm and Allison + Partners affirmed a commitment to abide by Wikipedia principles and endeavor to ensure that employees and clients do the same.
Phil Gomes’ successful career in the communications field is characterized by his passionate interest in technology, media, and emerging forms of communication. He serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman Digital.
Sam Ford (@Sam_Ford) is Director of Audience Engagement with Peppercomm, an affiliate with both MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing and Western Kentucky University, and co-author of Spreadable Media.
- Top PR Firms Promise They Won't Edit Clients' Wikipedia Entries on the Sly
- Wired: Wikipedia clamps down on paid editors and sockpuppetry
- The Hobson & Holtz Report – Podcast #761: June 23, 2014
- Lawsuit: Rogue Wikipedia editors conspired to manipulate Wikipedia pages to ruin reputation of philanthropist, charity he co-founded
About the Podcaster: Eric Schwartzman is a best selling author, speaker, blogger, trainer and advisor. Join him weekly at PR Tech Wednesdays.
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash