Saturday, 17 July 2010

Astroturfing

Astroturfing denotes political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are formally planned by an organization, but are disguised as spontaneous, popular "grassroots" behavior. The term refers to AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass. Previously, this was done by way of Public Relations firms and traditional print media, but new Astroturfing campaigns are carried out online as a form of reputation management and political advocacy.

US Senator Lloyd Bentsen, believed to have coined the term, was quoted by the Washington Post in 1985 using it to describe a "mountain of cards and letters" sent to his Senate office to promote insurance industry interests, which Bentsen dismissed as "generated mail."

“Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt (“outreach”, “awareness”, etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual pushing a personal agenda or highly organized professional groups with financial backing from large corporations, unions, non-profits, or activist organizations.”

It has become easier to structure a commercial astroturfing campaign in the electronic era because the cost and effort to send an e-mail (especially a pre-written, sign-your-name-at-the-bottom e-mail) is so low. Companies may use a boiler room full of telephones and computers where hired activists locate people and groups who create enthusiasm for the specified cause. Also, the use of psychographics allows hired supporters to persuade their targeted audience.

Examples: In 2009, in Montreal, Canada, Morrow Communications, a marketing company, acknowledged creating a dummy blog falsely pretending to be managed by 3 individuals to promote the use of bicycles in Montreal. They also created videos for the Blog and a Facebook webpage. Everything was in fact a marketing campaign, to prepare the launch of Bixi, the new public bike system in Montreal.

The ethics of an Astroturfing campaign would vary by situation, but it is possible to use Astroturfing tactics in a manner that would not be dishonest.
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3 comments:

王辛江淑萍康 said...

Quality is better than quantity...................................................................

凱許倫 said...

every shoe fits not every foot. ............................................................

蔡曼鄭美玉屏 said...

may the blessing be always with you!!............................................................

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