But, really, I think these techniques could be used for good outside the political arena; the PR firms involved just lack vision.
Say you've got some perfectly witty comeback or snarky comment prepared for your favorite message board. But nobody provides exactly the right straight line. Astroturfing can solve this! It should be easy for a paid consultant to join the community, build up a decent history of solid posts, then provide the perfect hook for your post, and make you look good!
Why make your own "image plays" in poker if you can recruit shills to play at your table, praise your good play, and let you make amazing calls or folds?
Not getting enough attention at work? Maybe a fake headhunter can start giving you calls, or a central office of trained interviewers can "check your references". The same idea could be applied to your dating life, giving the impression that you are beseiged by eligible singles and must be a hot catch.
Really, it's not fair that only the big guys get the benefit of astroturf. We need to encourage investment in this vital growth area so that it becomes affordable for everybody.