Let’s start digging the grave for PR’s astroturfing scourge

July 20, 2006 at 3:44 pm (Uncategorized)

I wanted to make mention of the new anti-astroturfing campaign initiated this week by Paull Young of Young PR and Trevor Cook of the Corporate Engagement blog. It is an extremely important endeavor that requires our support.

The best definition of astroturfing I’ve seen comes from Jargon File, which is on the New PR Wiki’s astroturfing page:

astroturfing: n.
1. The use of paid shills to create the impression of a popular movement, through means like letters to newspapers from soi-disant ‘concerned citizens’, paid opinion pieces, and the formation of grass-roots lobbying groups that are actually funded by a PR group ( AstroTurf? is fake grass; hence the term). See also sock puppet, tentacle.
2. What an individual posting to a public forum under an assumed name is said to be doing.

This is a sinister practice that reflects poorly on our profession, which is exactly why it is imperative for us to take action. It is only by taking a stand against such practices that the credibility of our field can overcome its generally negative public perception. I am so tired of seeing people like Strumpette denigrate the PR profession, but with practices like astroturfing going strong, who can blame them? Let’s show the naysayers that we can take a stand together and despite what many think, PR is NOT about lies and deception.

The NewPR Wiki’s page on astroturfing is very comprehensive, making it a great resource for those interested in further reading. It includes different definitions of astroturfing, a list of bloggers, practitioners, and agencies in PR that oppose the practice, and links to numerous articles that discuss it and point to examples. Below are ways that Paull and Trevor encourage you to get involved:

How You Can Help
· Join the conversation – write against astroturfing on your blog or comment on the blog posts listed on the Anti-Astroturfing page on the New PR Wiki
· Declare you and/or your agency astroturf free
· Expose possible examples of astroturfing
· Link to the Anti-Astroturfing page with the image provided and add your name to the list of supporters below
· Call on your politicians to take tougher legislative action against astroturfing
· Call on your industry / professional association to speak out against astroturfing
· Encourage friends and colleagues to get involved

You can count me in! How about you?


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