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 by the relevant codes of contuct. The CIPR code of conduct emphasises the importance of integrity: ‘honest and responsible regard for the public interest’ and ‘never knowingly misleading clients, employers, employees, colleagues and fellow professionals about the nature of representation’.
The PRCA’s professional charter (pdf) is even more explicit. A member firm shall ‘conduct its professional interests with proper regard to the public interest’ and ‘have a positive duty at all times to respect the truth and … not disseminate false or misleading information knowingly or recklessly, and use proper care to avoid doing so inadvertently’.
Of course, most UK practitioners have not signed up to either of these codes as they’re not CIPR members, nor do they work for PRCA consultancies. But this shows that the industry (or its professional wing) is already opposed to ‘astroturfing’.