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Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices." Phil Gomes, senior-VP at Edelman Digital, called Tuesday's statement a "formalized milestone" for the PR industry and Wikipedia community.
"There needs to be more from PR than subterfuge and more from Wikipedia than shame," he said.
In October, Wikipedia's parent organization, Wikimedia Foundation, issued a statement of its own "condemning the black hat practice of paid advocacy editing and sockpuppeting on Wikipedia." The statement came after volunteer editors investigated more than 300 accounts they believed to be fakes, or "sockpuppets," belonging to one PR agency, the Austin, Tex.-based Wiki-PR.
Wiki-PR did not respond to an Ad Age email by press time, but CEO Jordan French defended his company's practices in an interview with Business Insider.
It comes after years of PR agencies surreptitiously editing their clients' pages on the site, much to the dismay of Wikipedia's volunteer editors.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.The firms that signed the statement are Edelman, Ogilvy & Mather, Fleishman Hillard, Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Peppercomm, MDC Partners, Voce Communications, Allison & Partners and Beutler Ink."On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia's unique and important role as a public knowledge resource," the statement begins.