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16 July 2006


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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference PR bloggers urged to fight against astroturfing:

» Join the Anti-Astroturfing Campaign from Young PR
  Trevor Cook and I are starting an anti-astroturfing campaign – and we want YOU to be a part of it. Following on from some interesting discussion centering on my PRIA and Astroturfing post, we’ve decided to take a stand against the practice. Read... [Read More]

» No astrturfing around here! from Trends in the Living Networks
“Astroturfing” is the practice of corporate PR agents artificially creating what appear to be grassroots movements. Astroturf is a product used on the grounds of sports stadiums – so it may look like grassroots, but it ain’t. Examples of astroturfing..... [Read More]

» Anti Astroturfing campaign launched from A Good Yarn
In the world of public relations, astroturfing is an insidious and unethical practice that only damages the PR industry’s reputation. It involves the establishment of bogus community groups to advocate a position, stifle truthful debate and con people ... [Read More]

» media trend links from media
Building A Brand With Optimum Impact - In a recent interview with Multichannel News news editor Mike Reynolds, Gottesman discussed Cablevision’s promotional strategies and focus, the value of the Optimum brand name, and the industry’s position vis a vi... [Read More]

» Astroturfing :: Another Bane of Bad PR Practice from infOpinions?
Astroturfing is "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 actual... [Read More]

» In PR the real grass is always much greener... from PR Opinions
Since I started in PR back in 1991 one of the constant issues I've seen discussed and batted around is the low barriers of entry to this profession. The phrase used to be "anyone with a typewriter and a phone".... [Read More]

» Astroturfing is evil from PR Studies
This is the provocative opening salvo from Trevor Cook's campaign against activities that fake the appearance of grassroots support. The term astroturfing (ie synthetic grass) is not widely used in the UK. But it seems to me it's already outlawed [Read More]

» Is Astroturfing wrong in an apathetic democracy? from duncanriley.com
Ive been reading with some interest the rise of a new anti-astroturfing campaign speerheaded by Australias own Trevor Cook (more here and here), but as much as I share Trevors, and others concerns that the act of astroturfing (if y... [Read More]

» Anti-astroturfing campaign from Dutch Perspective
Australian public relations bloggers Trevor Cook and Paull Young have started an Internet campaign against astroturfing. Astroturfing, as in fake grassroots, is an unethical practice that harms the transparency of communication. Astroturfing is the rea... [Read More]

» Is The Music Business Astroturfing? from PR Communications
Trevor Cook writes about the campaign to stamp out astroturfing by Paull Young. Astroturfing is the process of building a grassroots campaign covertly by faking support for your campaign when none exists. Check out Paull Young's post, he is building [Read More]

» Anti-astroturfing from Licence to Roam
Over on the NewPR wiki, Paull Young and Trevor Cook have started an anti-astroturfing campaign with a great list of resouces about reported instances of the practice and commentary about it and how it can backfire.... [Read More]

» Astroturfing from Astroturfing
Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit unearthed an astroturfing instance back in June coordinated by the anti war group MoveOn.org. For example: A... [Read More]

» The case against astroturfing from mediations
Supporters of Trevor Cook and Paull Young's admirable Anti-Astroturfing campaign might be interested in this theoretical justification by Kathy Fitzpatrick which is grounded in USA First Amendment principles that underpin the PRSA Code of Ethics. In Ba... [Read More]

» Four Links – 07.28.06 from Strategic Public Relations
There is a ton of great public relations work being discussed in the PR blogosphere. Here are links to four of them. Anti-Astroturfing CampaignTrevor Cook and Paull Young are asking bloggers to unite against astroturfing. Count me in. I’m encouraged th... [Read More]

» Another update on astroturf from Making Light
These are additional updates to my post, Further instances of astroturf in blogs.Tsu Dho Nimh, writing in the f.i.a.b. comment... [Read More]


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Richard Bailey

I agree with the sentiment, but we need a better word (and definition perhaps). According to this, a royal visit with the obligatory handed-out flags is astroturfing - though a fairly harmless example.

As you say, it's really about transparency. It's front organisations that seek to mask the link to the sponsoring organisation that we object to.

Trevor Cook

Yes, it is about transparency. Something can be innocuous and acceptable (like handing out flags) if its done openly. On the other hand doing it secretly is denying the audience the capacity to make up their own minds. That's the problem for us as PR practitioners. We should always treat stakeholders with respect not contempt. Being opposed to astroturfing is really the same thing as being in favour of openness and honesty - something blogging and other social media is also on about. As I indicated at the end of the post, conversations can only occur between people who exist.

Paull Young

The definition could certainly use some work, that's why I included three seperate definitions on the new PR wiki page.

I think that the current wikipedia definition in particular is vague, and would include some reasonable PR practices.

Erin Caldwell has some interesting thoughts on it at her blog:

"There are actually several different definitions for “astroturfing” out there; some of which I agree with, some I don’t. But in my mind, it all boils down to this: faking grassroots support."

Jonathan Schultz

An interesting and scary article by Katherine Wilson from Overland describing a workshop on Astroturfing can be found here.

What I find the most scary is not that corporations pushing suspect products use disinformation to muddy the waters on issues of public interest, but that public institutions including the Port of Melbourne Corporation and the Darebin council also spent $595 to learn how to spread disinformation and confuse the interested public.

Bill Posters

You may or may not have read 'Grassroots Vs Astroturf' article by Katherine Wilson I came across on Overland:


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  • Trevorcook
  • I have worked in politics, public policy and strategic communications for over 30 years. I was recently awarded a doctorate in Australian politics at the University of Sydney. My thesis was on the (changing) relationship between the ALP and unions. I have been blogging since November 2003 and over the past decade I have written many articles on politics, public relations and social media for newspapers, magazines and websites. I love literature particularly John McGahern and James Joyce. The header photo is of the Clarence River taken before dawn at Ulmarra in 2012.


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