Less specialist firms also create such coalitions for their clients. Edelman PR Worldwide has created such a coalition for Monsanto to oppose labelling of genetically-engineered food.
Another expert in creating grassroots support for corporations is John Davies who features a picture of an old lady carrying a sign “Not in my backyard” in his advertisements. The picture is captioned:
"Don’t leave your future in her hands.
Traditional lobbying is no longer enough. Today numbers count. To win in the hearing room, you must reach out to create grassroots support. To outnumber your opponents, call the leading grassroots public affairs communications specialists."
In his promotion, Davies explains that he will use mailing lists and computer databases to identify potential supporters and telemarketers to persuade them to agree to have letters written on their behalf. In this way he is able to create the impression of a “spontaneous explosion of community support for needy corporations.”
The practical objective of letter-writing campaigns is not actually to get a majority of the people behind a position and to express themselves on it—for it would be virtually impossible to whip up that much enthusiasm—but to get such a heavy, sudden outpouring of sentiment that lawmakers feel they are being besieged by a majority. The true situation may be quite the contrary.
Chris Crowley, of the Seattle-based Crowley/Ballentine public affairs consulting firm, wrote in Oil & Gas Journal that grassroots organising “may just prove to be industry’s best weapon” for countering environmentalists who oppose resource developments. He describes the success of Citizens for Full Evaluation, formed as a front group to support Trans Mountain Pipe Line Companies plans to construct an oil tanker terminal and underground pipeline in Washington state. Polls commissioned by the company had found that 65 per cent of local people were concerned about an oil spill in Puget Sound, but also that some people supported the development. Trans Mountain sought to activate these unknown allies.
Citizens for Full Evaluation (CFE) was built primarily through the mail. More than 200,000 issue-oriented brochures and letters were mailed to registered voters along the proposed route, sounding themes developed from the poll. Supporters were quickly and cost-effectively identified where no organized support had existed before....
CFE’s mailing list grew to more than 5,000 in six largely rural counties. Entered into a computer database, the list could be broken down geographically, by level of support or by what members were willing to do.
Using this mailing list, supporters could be mustered for public meetings and meet in advance to be briefed. Letters to newspapers by opponents could be answered by CFE members with more credibility than the company. A county commissioner was targeted as was a congressman with “more than 1,000 post cards to his office. He got the message and remained neutral on the project...” In the end the project did not go ahead for “economic reasons” but Crowley argues that CFE managed to redefine the debate: “The group was critically important in helping to shift the focus of the debate from ‘David vs. Goliath’ or, ‘people vs. big oil’ to opponents vs. supporters of the project.”