Monday, 15 July 2013

Managing Brand Reputations on Wilipedia

PR types have got into a bit of bother by editing wikipedia articles directly on behalf of clients. However, the CIPR Social Media PAnel have worked with Wikipedia to come up with a set of guidelines that enable PRs to manage reputations without breaking the rules of the community.
I've summarised the main points below.
Firstly, Wikipedia editors are actively discouraged from editing articles where they may have a conflict or vested interest. The rules of the community as governed by Wikimedia specifies that all entries must be neutral.

Tackling errors
wikipedia CIPR guidanceWith this in mind, if you see a client entry that is inaccurate don’t correct it yourself, instead you’ll need to engage the Wikipedia community. But throughout this whole process remember this one simple rule:  Be nice, it gets the best results!

  1. Go to the Talk page and draft your response, stating all the correct facts.
  2. State your conflict of interest and explain why you are not editing the entry
  3. Describe the changes that should be made and explain why they are needed. Make sure you provide a reliable independent source for facts you want amended e.g BBC
  4. Justify your suggestions as much as you can by reference to other sources to back up your arguments
  5. Engage with the original editor of the page, you can do this by going to the Toolbar at the top left.

This process works in almost all situations. If it doesn’t, for whatever reason, then raise it on the relevant notice board, but don’t try to argue, lie or cheat the system! Some agencies have done this before, pretending to be someone else and have edited an entry under this falsification. This has created a lot of negativity and a distrust of PRs throughout the community. It’s only through the negotiations with Jimmy Wales by Steve Waddington and Gemma Griffiths as part of the CIPR that there has been an agreement about how PRs and the Wikipedia community can work together; you can read these in the full in the CIPR Wikipedia Best Practice Guidance.
Don’t let this put you off from contributing to Wikipedia. Participation is a great way to learn and get the hang of things, so long as you don’t have a conflict of interest. If you find that a client  doesn’t have an entry then don’t just create one yourself. Add it to the ‘articles for creation’ list and ‘requested articles’ where you can ask Wikipedians to produce an article on a particular topic
As a general rule of thumb don’t do influencer relations on Wikipedians, as you may do to journalists or bloggers. Impartiality is king and Wikipedians don’t like to be persuaded or seen to be influenced.

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