The term astroturfing describes formal public relations projects which deliberately seek to engineer the impression of spontaneous, grassroots behaviour. The goal is the appearance of independent public reaction to a politician, political group, product, service, event, or similar entities by centrally orchestrating the behaviour of many diverse and geographically distributed individuals. [From Wikipedia’s definition.]
While the practice of astroturfing is historically connected with American politics (no surprise there), it’s no longer exclusively associated with communication for political goals.
The campaign is focused on this statement:
We oppose the practice of astroturfing, defined above, in any form. The practice should never be a part of a public relations campaign as it is anti-democratic, unethical, immoral and often illegal.
We will attempt to raise awareness of this practice, expose it for what it is, and encourage our fellow communicators to join us in opposition.
We call for all professional communication bodies to strongly, publicly and actively oppose astroturfing; alongside PR agencies, individual practitioners and bloggers.
If you’re in the communication business and believe that astroturfing is unethical, immoral and simply poor business practice, please sign up to support the campaign at The New PR Wiki.