Industry groups release Wikipedia ‘manual’ for PR pros

William Beutler, founder of Beutler Ink, wrote the guide, and it’s being released in conjunction with the Council of Public Relations Firms and the Institute for Public Relations.

In June, a coalition of PR agencies signed a pledge in which they promised not to secretly edit clients’ pages on Wikipedia. They also promised “to seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.”

Here’s the follow-through on that promise, a 20-page Wikipedia manual for communications and PR professionals, written by Beutler Ink founder William Beutler. Beutler Ink was one of the 35 agencies to sign the Wikipedia pledge, and Beutler himself was an outspoken proponent of the move.

The guide itself covers a lot of ground, such as what to do when you get into a disagreement with a Wikipedia editor, how to add images, what to do in the event that an article is derogatory, dealing with vandalism, and how to define a Wikipedia conflict of interest. It also digs into how agencies should implement organization-wide Wikipedia policies.

Here’s what it suggests could be added to a firm’s social media policy:

If you choose to contribute to Wikipedia on your own time, take care to follow the site’s policies and guidelines at all times. If you are not authorized to participate on Wikipedia for work purposes, avoid editing any articles which may be construed as relating to your employment.

The Council of Public Relations Firms and the Institute of Public Relations are working with Beutler to distribute the guide, for free, as a PDF.

“Providing guidelines like these reinforces the industry’s commitment to accuracy, truthfulness, transparency, and disclosure,” Matt Shaw, senior vice president of the Council of Public Relations Firms, said in a press release.

Please take a few minutes to peruse Beutler’s guide, and let us know in the comments what you think of the advice it offers.

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