It is bad practice for university press officers to edit information about their institutions on Wikipedia (“WikiTweaks: PR staff wield the airbrush for warts and all removal”, 21 November): 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.
President-elect, Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Director, Ketchum Europe