CIPR speaks out on conflict of interest edits on Wikipedia
Responding to reports from last week, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations has criticised university press officers for editing information about their institutions on Wikipedia.
Commenting in Times Higher Education, Stephen Waddington MCIPR, Chair of the CIPR's Social Media Panel, highlighted the story as an example of bad practice and urged public relations professionals to consult the CIPR's best practice guidance on the use of Wikipedia.
It is bad practice for university press officers to edit information about their institutions on Wikipedia; indeed, it is likely to cause reputational damage to the organisations concerned.
Anybody can contribute to Wikipedia, but editing in cases of conflicts of interest breaches its community rules and contradicts internationally recognised guidance published by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
In June 2012, the CIPR’s social media panel collaborated with Wikimedia UK to develop a guide for the PR profession on the use of Wikipedia. This document can be downloaded for free from the CIPR website.
PR is at its best when it is used openly and honestly to foster dialogue with an audience. Any attempt to act in an opaque manner will ultimately harm an organisation’s reputation – and can cause worse damage.
Notes to editors
About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is the largest membership organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.
The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).