Portland welcomes CIPR's plans to work with Wikipedia on industry guidelines

Portland has welcomed the CIPR's plans to shake up the PR industry's approach to Wikipedia and would also be happy to take guidance from the site's founder Jimmy Wales, as Bell Pottinger will do this week.

Tim Allan: Portland founder and MD
Tim Allan: Portland founder and MD

Tim Allan's agency was accused last week of removing Stella Artois' 'wife beater' nickname from Wikipedia on behalf of client Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Labour MP Tom Watson discovered Portland was behind the alterations to the brand's entry. Following these revelations, the CIPR announced that it is set to work with Wikipedia to provide members with guidance on how to interact with the Wikipedia community.

The news comes as Wales is to deliver a seminar at Bell Pottinger's offices this Friday, to train employees on the ethical use of the online encyclopedia, following a damaging sting operation by The Independent in December.

A Portland spokesman told PRWeek that the agency would welcome 'any initiatives that could lead to fresh clarification on this issue', including a briefing from Wales and the CIPR's own initiative.

CIPR CEO Jane Wilson said that Wikipedia would be working with the CIPR on the guidance, adding: 'There is a need to develop understanding of the mutual advantages of open, transparent engagement with the public through Wikipedia'.

Roger Bamkin, chair of Wikimedia UK, the non-profit organisation that operates Wikipedia, added that Watson's revelations show there is a lack of understanding in the PR profession on 'how to engage with the Wikipedia community'.

In December, Lord Bell told PRWeek: 'He (Wales) offered to come in and talk to our people about the correct way to deal with Wikipedia.

I have accepted that offer. If we have done things that are not in the spirit of the site, we will say so and acknowledge it, and improve our processes.'

Wikipedia guidelines ask users to avoid editing topics in which they have a vested interest and Wales has threatened to ban agencies that ignore the rules.

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