Wikipedia:Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms

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On February 7, 2014 a roundtable discussion was held at Donovan House hotel in Washington, DC, bringing together individuals from Wikipedia's volunteer community and from digital practices of several of the world's leading public relations agencies (as well as academics), for a conversation about the complex relationship between these two very different groups. The conversation followed in the footsteps of previous efforts,[1] including the 2012 formation of Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement and publication of a best practices guideline by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.[2]

Following the Chatham House Rule, it was agreed that participants would be free to discuss the contents of the discussion afterward, while refraining from associating views with the name or affiliation of speakers, to allow for a frank and open discourse. A key outcome of the day's conversation was the agreement to work on a joint statement from participating agencies clarifying their views on Wikipedia, particularly expressing a respect for Wikipedia's goals, an intention to encourage deeper learning about the project across the corporate communications profession, a dedication to act in accordance with this understanding, a commitment to follow Wikimedia's Terms of Use, a commitment to the highest standards of disclosure, and an openness for an expanded dialogue to find areas for common ground and collaboration.

These agencies have articulated a clear message: they intend to do right by Wikipedia as well as their clients. While only one step in what may be a long process, this clear statement is also a necessary one. These agencies realize that the Wikipedia project's credibility and relevance come from its focus on accuracy and objectivity; therefore professional communicators' actions should always support those goals.

Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms[edit]

Released June 10, 2014:

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.


Original signatories[edit]

Founding membership, as of June 10, 2014. Note that individual agency affiliations may have changed:

Currently listed agencies[edit]

All listed agencies are confirmed participants and all individuals are confirmed agency representatives as of November 2017:

Professional organizations[edit]

Non-profit PR industry groups associated with the spring 2014 effort:

  • Institute for Public Relations, (Tina McCorkindale, user account TBD)
  • PR Council (Renee Wilson, user account TBD)


Individuals present at February 7, 2014 meeting:


  • Adelanto (Daniel Rodet, User:Eurobas on WP in English and my SUL User:copyleft))—unresponsive
  • Peregrine Communications—individual has departed; pending new representative
  • Chandler Chicco Companies—individual has departed; pending new representative
  • DeMoss—individual has departed; pending new representative
  • Keene Communications—individual has departed; pending new representative
  • Llorente y Cuenca—individual has departed; pending new representative
  • MSLGROUP—(Yashodhan Jadhav, User:YashO)
  • New Venture Communications—pending re-confirmation
  • RFBinder + Partners — pending re-confirmation
  • Ruder Finn—pending re-confirmation
  • Text100—pending re-confirmation

How to join[edit]

Because we seek the widest possible support for this initiative, anyone in good standing on Wikipedia may join on behalf of either a) an agency, marketing firm, marketing department or b) institution, association or other industry organization. (The best way to list individuals in support of this statement is currently under discussion on the Talk page.) To join, follow these steps:

  1. Determine which category you believe it makes the most sense to sign on as.
  2. Share this statement with the appropriate decision-maker and obtain their consent to follow the principles espoused.
  3. Identify one person to be the participating representative and point of contact with the Wikipedia community.
  4. The point of contact should choose a username consistent with Wikipedia's username policy and create a Wikipedia account.
  5. Create a user page, including a statement about your affiliation. (Optional but recommended)
  6. This individual should find the correct section above and add their organization and themselves to the listing as follows: Organization name, (Individual name, [[User:Individual username]].
  7. Send an email to donovanhousegroupATgmailDOTcom to join the associated mailing list.
  8. Maintain a good standing within the Wikipedia community and contribute productively.

Media coverage and industry response[edit]

Upon release, the statement received significant attention from industry publications such as Ad Age[3] and PR Week[4]. Additionally, the agreement was the subject of articles in general business publications like Fast Company[5] and The Wall Street Journal[6]; internet-focused websites such as The Daily Dot[7] and The Verge[8]; and general news websites including Politico[9] and Slate[10]. It also received attention from non-English media, including the German ZDNet[11] and Dutch Telegraaf[12].

Eleven companies were signatories at launch. As reported by PR Week[13] in successive coverage[14], the list had approximately doubled by the end of the week, with other multinational PR firms signing on to support its aims. As of April 2017, it has 34 active signatories and 11 lapsed signatories.

While media coverage tended toward simple reporting of the statement's existence, commentary was largely favorable, citing it as a positive step toward improving the rocky relationship between Wikipedia's community and the PR industry. However, Adweek[15] quoted a PRSA representative expressing caution that it "could actually support the notion that PR pros somehow deserve to be singled out" when individuals with other motivations can cause trouble as well. It also quoted Wikipedian John Broughton, saying the aims of the statement are difficult to judge, given Wikipedia's "astonishing number of policies and guidelines".

The statement preceded the announcement of a major revision to the Wikimedia Foundation's Terms of Use, requiring disclosure of financial interests, which was released the following week.[16] In September 2014, participants from the group published an e-book, Wikipedia and the Communications Professional: A Primer, produced by Beutler Ink and sponsored by the PR Council and the Institute for PR.[17]

See also[edit]





  1. ^
  2. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ Sebastian, Michael (June 10, 2014). "Top PR Firms Say They Won't Edit Wikipedia on the Sly". Ad Age. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  4. ^ Bradley, Diana (June 10, 2014). "PR firms outline Wikipedia compliance in joint statement". PR Week. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  5. ^ Ford, Sam (July 24, 2014). "How to Succeed in Online PR? Get to Know the Wikipedia Community". Fast Company. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  6. ^ Elder, Jeff (June 10, 2014). "PR Firms Vow to Abide Wikipedia's Rules on Conflicts". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  7. ^ Sampson, Tim (June 10, 2014). "Major PR firms promise to play by Wikipedia's rules". The Daily Dot. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  8. ^ Khaw, Cassandra (June 11, 2014). "PR firms promise to play fair on Wikipedia". The Verge. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  9. ^ Tau, Byron (June 14, 2014). "PR Firms Will Back Off Client Wikipedia Edits". Politico. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  10. ^ Hay Newman, Lily (June 17, 2014). "Wikipedia Is Smoking Out Paid Editors". Slate. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  11. ^ Kalenda, Florian (June 11, 2014). "Führende PR-Firmen erklären sich gegen Manipulationen von Wikipedia". ZDNet. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  12. ^ "Wikipedia en PR-bedrijven tekenen code". De Telegraaf. June 11, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  13. ^ Bradley, Diana (June 13, 2014). "MLSGroup, Weber add names to Wikipedia PR ethics framework". PR Week. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  14. ^ Bradley, Diana (June 16, 2004). "Eight more PR firms join Wikipedia compliance pledge". PR Week. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  15. ^ Coffee, Patrick (June 12, 2014). "7 Experts Weigh in on the PR/Wikipedia Agreement". Adweek. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  16. ^ Brigham, Geoff (June 16, 2014). "Making a change to our Terms of Use: Requirements for disclosure". Wikimedia Blog. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  17. ^ "For Immediate Release: Wikipedia and the Communications Professional: A Primer". Beutler Ink. September 16, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2017.