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Leading PR Firms Issue Statement Committing to Improve Wikipedia

Several leading communications/PR agencies—including Peppercomm, Edelman, Ogilvy & Mather, FleishmannHillard, Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Voce Communications,MDC Partners and Allison+Partners—have issued a joint statement via Wikipedia about the commitment these firms are taking to respect the objectives and goals of the Wikipedia project and to seek a better working relationship between corporate communicators and the volunteer editor community that empowers the Wikipedia project.

The agencies were brought together by Bill Beutler, who runs Beutler Ink. The group who got together around this issue includes not just representatives of the various agencies but also non-agency-affiliated people from the Wikipedia editor community and academia.

The statement commits that these firms respect Wikipedia’s goals, acknowledge there has been a challenging relationship between corporate communicators and Wikipedia editors and Terms of Use, and establishes that these firms are all committed to enforcing ethical engagement practices for their employees and making the industry more parallel to open-source expectations—including the highest standards of disclosure, and an openness for an expanded dialogue to find areas for common ground and collaboration.

The statement reads as follows:

On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge that the prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship with the community of Wikipedia editors.

Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfill its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.

We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:

·      To seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.

·      To act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to "conflict of interest."

·      To abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.

·      To the extent we become aware of potential violations of Wikipedia policies by our respective firms, to investigate the matter and seek corrective action, as appropriate and consistent with our policies.

·      Beyond our own firms, to take steps to publicize our views and counsel our clients and peers to conduct themselves accordingly.

We also seek opportunities for a productive and transparent dialogue with Wikipedia editors, inasmuch as we can provide accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable information that helps Wikipedia better achieve its goals.

A significant improvement in relations between our two communities may not occur quickly or easily, but it is our intention to do what we can to create a long-term positive change and contribute toward Wikipedia’s continued success.

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