PR Bloggers Aim to End Astroturfing

Anti-Astroturfing logo
The logo of the anti-astroturfing campaign

Two Australian PR bloggers, Trevor Cook from the Sydney-based PR firm Jackson Wells Morris and Paull Young from the sports PR agency BAM Media, have launched an anti-astroturfing campaign. Cook bluntly states that "Astroturfing is evil. Astroturfing is always unethical and usually illegal. It corrodes democracy which relies on transparency." Cook and Young want PR companies to publicly state their opposition to using front groups. The catalyst for the campaign was an article by Melbourne journalist Katherine Wilson, who documented the role of the Public Relations Institute of Australia in hosting events by Canadian PR adviser, Ross Irvine. Irvine's tour of Australia was sponsored by the conservative think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs. More recently, the PRIA dismissed without explanation an ethics complaint over the Tasmanians for a Better Future front group, which was run by a Porter-Novelli affiliate.