A furious battle, which PR is losing, is taking place on the Facebook site called Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement (CREWE), created by Phil Gomes, SVP of Edelman Digital, Chicago.

As of press time 127 participants had posted hundreds of comments, many of them by frustrated PR pros who can't get their entries and corrections past Wikipedia's 10,000 volunteer editors. (We tried five postings on PR subjects and all of them were promptly scratched).

Phil Gomes
Contributors who run afoul of the volunteers too many times can find themselves permanently blocked.

WP boss Jimmy Wales is dead set against entries by anyone getting paid to submit them. He only wants input from “reliable” media and never from “primary” sources.

A Wikipedian, for instance, would never attend a sporting event and report what happened. He or she would wait for a write-up in a “reliable” medium which would then be posted.

WP interprets “encyclopedic” to mean unbiased and neutral although the dictionary says it means “all-encompassing, exhaustive, in-depth,” etc. There is no mention of truth or accuracy.

Such things are hammered out in public debate as is being done on CREWE. Other websites including www.techdirt.com are conducting the same debate.

A chief WP critic is Gregory Kohs, who has paying clients that want their WP entries corrected and updated.

Kohs, who has posted dozens of comments on CREWE, has now been banned from the site. He says PR pros who think they can be “submissive” and comply with WP rules are fooling themselves.

“The system is deliberately rigged to favor anonymous anti-corporate zealots with agendas to push,” he says.

The WP philosophy is that rank amateurs should be in charge of information flow.

We wonder if any Wikipedians would fly on an airplane built by weekend aeronautical buffs?

Trivitt Gaffe: Threatens Wales

PR Society associate PR director Keith Trivitt, who has nine posts on CREWE and who is co-author of a nine-part “CREWE PR Plan,” has made a serious gaffe by saying PRS and global PR groups can combine to put “pressure” on Wales. PRS is currently dealing with 12 international PR groups in a bid to come up with a new definition of PR.

Such a threat is likely to make Wales even madder at PR if that is possible.

Trivitt was agreeing with Shel Holtz who noted that with global and national PR and communications “on board and aligned,” there could be an effort to “alter the perceptions of the Wikipedia faithful, thus upping the pressure on Wales to open his mind at least a little.”

Trivitt, who just joined PRS last year (where are PRS chair Gerry Corbett, president/COO Bill Murray and VP-PR Art Yann in this debate?!) thought Holtz made a “good point in having the majority of international PR and communications associations on board with this effort and using that as some sort of pressure point to open significant dialogue with Wales and his faithful.”

In other words, PR groups around the world could “gang up” on Wales to bring him around.

Wales et al are urged to be “reasonable” by Trivitt and even have an “in-person” meeting with the WP critics.

Trivitt, who works for one of the most stubborn groups we have ever encountered, posted on techdirt.com Jan. 20 that WP is failing to “accommodate” both sides of the issue.

This is strange talk coming from the PR staff of PRS since for many years it has refused to talk to us on the telephone much less have an in-person meeting. But it suddenly wants doors opened and “reasonable” behavior when confronted with an institution as rigid as itself.

The small faction of APRs (less than 20% of membership) who have run PRS since the mid-1970s has been anything but “reasonable” and “accommodating” to the non-APRs.

Another suggestion is that WP “reflect the will of its readers” (i.e., practice democracy). That would be a good idea for PRS itself.

Trivitt on June 17, 2011, castigated the Redner Group for threatening to blacklist a news medium although PRS has a formal press blacklisting policy in place.

Corbett, Murray and Yann are sending Trivitt off to the “PR wars” while they hide behind a bunker. Former PRS PR manager Cedric Bess was used the same way.

“PR” Costs $620,292 at PRS

Cost of “media relations” (PR) at PRS was $620,292 in 2010 which included $408,453 in pay/benefits. This was a 42% hike from 2009 costs.

PRS could get expert advice from a top flight PR firm for that kind of money. At the very least it would put the Society back in touch with reality. PRS has never had outside PR counsel but it’s about time considering the trail of PR wreckage it creates.

It’s only January and already it has embarrassed itself and PR not only by threatening Wales but by launching a quest for the definition of PR and finding this is taking two months longer than planned.

Any businessperson or even any layperson encountered on a street corner knows what PR is. But it’s a mystery to the Society.

Chair Corbett is the one who should be taking part in the CREWE dialogue.

Instead, he is refusing to answer 15 “accurate” and “clear” questions that have been put to him by members including what is his speaking schedule; will he conduct “listen-only” teleconferences like 2011 chair Rosanna Fiske; what is in the new three-year contract of Murray, and when will PRS post the minutes of any of the 2011 board meetings or the 2011 Assembly?

WP Fights Piracy Act

WP and others enforced a “blackout” Jan. 18 to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Leading support for the bill is Chris Dodd, former Democratic Senator from Connecticut who is now lobbyist for the Motion Picture Assn. of America (which employed PRS’s Bill Murray for 20 years). He condemned the blackout as an “abuse” of power by those sites.

Institute Has 2,000 Ethics Codes

While surfing the web on “ethics,” we came across the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

It has collected 2,000 ethics codes since 1976 including that of the PR Society.

CSEP offers professional ethics courses at IIT and helps faculty at other universities to teach ethics, develop courses and programs, and integrate ethics into “ordinary” courses. An “Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl” for undergraduates is held each year.

Workshops are conducted for business, trade groups and city governments. It has published semi-annually since 1981 “Perspectives on the Professions,” a periodical of short articles by practitioners and scholars.

CSEP did not immediately have any data on how many of the codes have enforcement mechanisms. PRS removed the enforcement process in its Code in 1999 after the board was accused of violating five articles in the Code by declaring a press boycott.