Eight more PR firms join Wikipedia compliance pledge

Eight additional PR firms joined Wikipedia's compliance framework for communications professionals on Monday.

NEW YORK: Eight additional PR firms joined Wikipedia’s compliance framework for communications professionals on Monday.

The most recent signees include: Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Levick, Cohn & Wolfe, Waggener Edstrom Communications, RF|Binder Partners, Augur, Keene Communications, and Roepke Public Relations.

The statement was drafted after a months-long dispute between the Wikimedia Foundation, the group that runs Wikipedia, and Wiki-PR, an agency whose primary service is editing Wikipedia pages. The Foundation sent the firm a cease-and-desist letter in November after it allegedly failed to comply with Wikipedia's terms and conditions by engaging in paid advocacy editing.

The guidelines stipulate that participating firms must commit to better understanding the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects; act in accordance with the site’s policies and guidelines; and abide by the Wikimedia Foundation‘s terms of service.

Last Tuesday, the first group of firms to agree to the guidelines included Beutler Ink, Ogilvy & Mather, FleishmanHillard, Peppercomm, Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Voce Communications, Edelman, and Allison+Partners. Glover Park Group and holding company MDC Partners joined Wednesday, followed by Corporate M, Lawson Mulvihill, MSLGroup, and Weber Shandwick later in the week.

The Council of Public Relations Firms, the Institute for Public Relations, and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations have also added their support.

"There are a few agencies that have joined that we haven’t been able to get in touch with in the past," said William Beutler, Beutler Ink president and one of the statement’s organizers. "Once they saw news coverage about it, they said, ‘Why are we not part of this thing?’ That is why you have seen this rush to join. Peer pressure works, I suppose."

But not all PR firms are jumping on board to sign the statement.

Jeff Beringer, EVP and global practice leader for digital at Golin, told PRWeek on last week that his firm believes it is a "fine statement of intent," but the agency is already committed to transparent, ethical communications. Before adding its signature, Golin wants to make sure there is something "more valuable" to the statement, he said.

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