Category Archives: Social media

CIPR publishes Wikipedia guidance

This week the CIPR published its guidance on editing Wikipedia pages on behalf of clients or employers, or in the language used in the text where there is a ‘conflict of interest’. Here’s the press release and here’s the PDF document. PR Week’s summary is simple and the advice is clear:

The guidance states that PROs should not directly edit Wikipedia pages relating to their organisation or a client, but should instead suggest amendments to Wikipedia editors.

Aside from the fact that PRs editing Wikipedia pages for their clients has been big news for the industry this year, I agree with Neville Hobson’s thoughts on why this document is needed, he says:

I believe the guidance document is an essential step in helping practitioners (whether CIPR members or not) gain better understanding of Wikipedia – the community itself as well as how the content creation and editing procedures work. It makes clear sense to better understand a community whose content you want to contribute to in some way, and engage with those in that community on the terms of engagement of that community.

The very nature of PR means we sometimes need to join in with other people’s games, be those games journalism, user generated content or real world events. But ultimately the Wikipedia guidance serves as another reminder that when, as PRs, we play other people’s games, we must play by their rules.

(Disclosure: the Wikimedia Foundation is a past short-term client of mine.)

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The social media newsroom

Earlier this week I saw the renowned PR consultant Stuart Bruce talk about the social media newsroom at a CIPR Social Summer event.

Stuart’s case for ditching the widely used online press release archive in favour of a social media newsroom was convincing, possibly faultless. His presentation is below. But the most interesting aspect was not the benefits that a social media newsroom can bring. Rather it was Stuart’s premise that social media is just part of modern PR practice. It’s not something new, magical or outside of the remit of PR, but very intrinsic to our function. PRs who are not using social media just aren’t up to the job in 2012. Stuart is not the first to say this, however I think it’s still an important idea to discuss.

This doesn’t mean that today’s PRs are expected to become community managers looking after, for example, Facebook on a day-to-day basis, although of course they might. What this means is that reputation management, generating third-party endorsement or whatever definition you use for PR is not restricted to traditional media and traditional channels. Influencers on social media, be they bloggers, Twitter users or Facebook fans, are just as important as journalists and thought-leaders.

While this might seem obvious, my experience is that this philosophy is not yet widely adopted in PR practice. Developments like blogger lists on the Gorkana database are helping to change the mindset of PRs, but the paradigm has not yet shifted.

In the short-term you won’t see the Museum of London suddenly adopt a social media newsroom, though this is a long-term aspiration of mine. If you look at how the Museum of London press office operates today what you will see is social media firmly embedded within our PR activity. Bloggers are included within every media list alongside traditional journalists and I encourage my team to understand that a positive Tweet by a crucial influencer is as important, and sometimes more important, than press coverage. I have even commissioned Metrica to help us understand which online influencers can help us meet our public affairs objectives. Stuart Bruce says that the social media newsroom is an evolution, not a revolution. I believe the same applies to including social media tactics within a traditional PR programme, it’s just an evolution of what PRs are already doing very well.

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