Anti-Astroturfing Campaign Kicks Off
This is long overdue: Trevor Cook and Paul Young are kicking off an anti-astroturfing campaign, they’ve created a page on the New PR Wiki that aggregates discussions on the subject, they’re also encouraging communicators who oppose the practice to publicly pledge their support.
Now here’s the thing: While it’s smart to get behind something like this, the root issue with astroturfing is online disclosure — and disclosure is a complicated issue that communicators need to clearly define as they determine their own best practices for behavior and conduct online. Astroturfing is just one classic example of where disclosure issues surface, but I’ll give you another one, something new: pitching kid bloggers.
This one hasn’t blown up yet, not like astroturfing, but it will, especially as more companies use social media and conversational marketing tactics. My advice: start drawing some lines in the sand now.
This campaign is a great step in the fight against astroturfing, no question, but I think a greater responsibility sits with the companies and services firms to each determine their own best practices, their own policies, for what is — and is not — acceptable online behavior. And to not wait for a crisis to dictate otherwise.
Mike Manuel is the founder of the award winning Media Guerrilla blog. Media Guerrilla is an insiders take on the practice of technology public relations with a focus on the issues, tactics and trends that are specific to the tech industry.
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