One of the things that surprised my brother, Ryan, when he got a glimpse into my job at a PR firm here in San Diego was the normality of ghost writing. He thought it seemed dishonest. It’s an interesting practice that does seem pretty dishonest. (Probably because it is!) As someone who has a passion for A. writing and B. public relations, I have done my fair share of writing for other bylines. There are perks and pains to this. It’s a great way to get writing experience as a newbie in the industry (I should know) and it’s also a fabulous way to watch your writing get ripped apart by those whose edits you can learn so much from (again… I should know). The downside — you would love to take that op-ed you spent days and days editing and use it has a writing sample wouldn’t you? Too bad. Technically, it’s not officially written by you (but rather someone who didn’t see it until it’s final draft). The reality is that ghost writing is going to happen whether we agree with it or not. And I’m not trying to bash a common practice of the an industry I obviously support, I’m just being honest here. (One of my goals for this blog, keeping it honest!) Just because ghost writing is an effective way to accomplish many many goals we set in PR for our clients, doesn’t make it an honest practice. The bottom line is, when someone attaches their byline to words they are saying they agree and can call the words their own — and in this, some honesty is regained. There will always be people that we want to hear from who are simply too busy to get their words out there frequently and ghost writing is part of closing that gap.
Now, when we take that concept of ghost writing and apply it to blogs, do our feelings about it change at all? Is it okay for a team/staff to blog for their company’s CEO? It’s fairly common that bloggers are getting jobs writing blog posts for corporate executives too busy or inarticulate to do it themselves. So are we learning to accept this? My thoughts are this: What if we want to hear from someone who just doesn’t have the time to connect with us on a daily basis? Wouldn’t we willingly accept a briefing from their staff or team? After all, who better to tell us what Barama was up leading up to the election than his campaign manager?
While my thoughts, opinion and research on this subject are not even close to being decided or completed… for now my consensus is this: there is a middle ground. For now I’d have to semi-disagree with this angle of thought — Rory Cellan-Jones quotes Tom Coats in The Business of Blogging, “The value of having a blog as an executive is to have a conversation with the people who use your products, to be part of the community and to talk honestly. To have it ghost-written is utterly pointless.” I think that while it is extremely important for company or brand’s blogs to maintain an honest and authentic tone the main thing is that the CONTENT of the blog needs to come from Barama himself. However, if our president elect is dictating/interviewing with a staffer who then takes it to the keyboard… if that’s what it takes to get the content and info to me. I’ll take it.
But… what do YOU think???