Huawei vs the world, Wikipedia best practice, and
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Huawei vs the world, Wikipedia best practice, and

Paul Holmes

Chinese tech giant Huawei's battle to win hearts and minds continues, amid continued opposition to its expansion plans in such countries as Australia and the US. The company has hired Jack Morton for branding advice, as it attempts to convince Americans to buy Chinese smartphones. The IDC analyst in this story focuses on Huawei's ability to create a 'hero device'; but every bit as important is the brand's ability to reclaim a reputation that has been buffeted by political opportunism. Chinese companies (and ZTE may well be next) do not get a fair shake of the dice in the US - for Huawei to tackle this it needs to be open, transparent and, most importantly, very thick-skinned. We have argued before that the PR industry needs much more clarity where Wikipedia is concerned, so new draft best practice guidelines (from the CIPR and PRCA) for using the site should be welcomed. In particular, the guidelines address the two key concerns: whether a paid PR firm should directly edit entries, and what the substance of those edits might be. On the former, the guidelines note that PR people should disclose their interests, be transparent and engage with the Wikipedia community. On the latter, they warn against creating entries from scratch, removing negative material and promoting clients. There is also much-needed step-by-step guidance on correcting entries. This is all sound advice, but Wikipedia, as we are often reminded, is a diffuse entity that represents a multitude of viewpoints. One of these, of course, is founder Jimmy Wales, who appears to assume that the PR industry is incapable of editing objectively. That view is likely to be widespread; if these guidelines can help debunk that myth, then they will be deemed successful. Controversial paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has begun working with Global Counsel, the consultancy set up by Lord Mandelson last year. The release notes that Global Counsel joins APP's "family of advisors", which also include WPP sibling Cohn & Wolfe. We understand that the APP-Mandelson relationship actually began around 12 months ago. For what it's worth, APP says that Global Counsel's role is to: "help ensure that the new voluntary partnership agreement on legal and sustainable timber trade between the European Union and Indonesia is a success and to assist in facilitating change and compliance with tough new EU rules and standards amongst APP’s many customers and stakeholders in Europe."
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