Front groups

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Microphones-2-.jpg This article is part of the Propaganda Portal project of Spinwatch.
Front groups are organisations that claim to represent one agenda, but in reality they represent the interests of another concealed agenda. This clandestine attempt to conceal their true agenda, o is what separates front froups from other lobbying organisations. The creation of front groups is a key example of Third Party Technique in the Public Relations industry.[1]


Front groups tend to focus their efforts on public relations and lobbying initiatives, operating under the premise that a narrative is more palatable when it comes from an apparently independent source. Front groups seek to dupe policymakers, journalists, and citizens into believing that the reports they commission and the narratives they spin are anything other than simple corporate Propaganda. These front groups are often very politically active; holding news conferences, publishing newsletters, commissioning reports, writing editorials, and featuring on talk shows in an effort to divert public opinion toward industry views.[2]


Critics of the use of front groups as a public relations strategy argue that their heavy reliance on dishonesty and concealment often crosses the line into deception and manipulation; allowing organisations to advance their interests under the guise of legitimate public opinion.[3]


Characteristics of front groups

A front group may exhibit some of the following characteristics:

  • Avoids mentioning or selectively publishes its main sources of funding
  • Was set up by another organisation (particularly PR, consultancy, grassroots campaigning, polling firms)
  • Engages in actions that consistently and conspicuously benefit regular third parties
  • Re-focuses controversial debates onto new and often unrelated topics
  • Has a misleading name that disguises the organisation's real agenda
  • Has the the same address or phone number that has been or is currently listed to other corporations
  • Consists of outspoken industry 'experts'
  • Is constantly trying to reinforce that it is 'independent', 'credible', 'trustworthy', 'esteemed', etc.
  • Has very low, or free membership fees to bolster membership numbers and claim legitimacy[1]


Examples of United Kingdom Front Groups

Examples of United States Front Groups


Resources


Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 SourceWatch, Front Groups, SourceWatch website, accessed 20 March 2015
  2. Mark Megalli and Andy Friedman (March 1992), Fronting For Business, Multinational Monitor website, accessed 20 March 2015
  3. Ethics in PR, Front Groups, Ethics in PR website, accessed 21 March 2015