Front Groups and Astroturf
Some corporations have gone beyond their corporate allies in their organising efforts, hiring specialised public relations firms to set up front groups that promote the corporate agenda but pose as public interest groups as well as manufacturing the impression of grassroots movements and shifts in public opinion, otherwise known as astroturf.
When a corporation wants to oppose environmental regulations or support an environmentally damaging development it may do so openly and in its own name. But it is far more effective to have a group of citizen’s or a group of experts—preferably a coalition of such groups—which can publicly promote the outcomes desired by the corporation whilst claiming to represent the public interest. This is referred to in the public relations industry as "information laundering" and the use of front groups is referred to as garnering "third party" support. When such groups do not already exist, the modern corporation can pay a public relations firm to create them.
Public relations firms also have become adept at creating the impression of grass roots support for corporate causes so as to convince politicians to oppose environmental reforms. A 1992 survey by the US Public Affairs Council found that 73% of the 163 large companies surveyed had a senior executive responsible for grassroots organising, a newly acquired responsibility growing at a rate second only to environmental affairs. There are now also several firms in the US which specialise in creating grass roots support for industry causes.
- 'Industry Front Groups', Environmental Working Groups (EWG)
- 'Non-profit Organizations with Ties to Industry', Integrity in Science
- 'Front Groups', SourceWatch
- 'Institute for the Protection of Corporate Front Groups Australia'