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Brendan Cooper is Editor-in-Chief at byyd, the leading mobile Demand-side Platform.

Ghost-blogging: when the chips are down the balloon goes up and the lights go out.

I was recently asked to advise on whether it’s a good idea to ghost-write a blog. I personally have never written a blog post on a client’s behalf although I produce ghost-written articles (hence my moniker). You could argue that they’re the same thing. However, my take on it, and I think the general view, is that ghost-blogging is not only different but potentially very dangerous.

Blogging is much more personal and immediate and whereas people accept that articles aren’t necessarily written by the supposed author, with blogging, they do. The whole ethos of blogging is that it’s an open and transparent dialogue. With this in mind there are definitely practical objections to a PR agency writing a blog.

Firstly, if it’s a dialogue then who deals with comments after the first posting? The copywriter? The account manager? The client? Does every comment have to be approved? Logistically, how would this work? Surely a top-ranking director doesn’t want to deal with approval of every message that goes out? This is where the ‘immediacy’ would be lost too.

Secondly, given that people have often strong feelings about being genuine in blogs, if you’re found out then you’re in really deep doo-doo. And you can be found out: if you comment on another blog or forum then people can run a ‘whois’ on your IP address. Even if there is a genuine desire to give out useful information, if you’re not upfront about representing clients then all hell will break loose. Do you really want to take that chance?
 
In fact I would even question the need for most corporate blogs written by the directors themselves. When blogging’s done well by a CEO or director the results can be very impressive. People really do respond to the ‘inside view’, complete with its typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. It’s all part and parcel of blogging and adds to its charm. But which directors have the time for this? Where’s the ROI? And do you really want to risk doing a Ratner?

Given all the negatives, and few positives, I wouldn’t take such a risk with a client’s reputation. I just wouldn’t do it. Writing for yourself or your own enterprise is fine, but I wouldn’t second-guess another company’s messaging or pretend to be someone I’m not.

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3 Comments on “Ghost-blogging: when the chips are down the balloon goes up and the lights go out.”

  1. The Friendly Ghost August 12, 2007 at 1:38 am #

    What goes around comes around – immediately, this comes through. Turns out good CEO blogs really do help the bottom line.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ghost Writing Ethics 2.0: PR Firm Caught with Pants Down, Public Outraged, Politics as Usual? | Literal Mayhem - December 26, 2007

    [...] Nevertheless, we do need some basic rules in order to bring the PR profession back from the brink of perpetrating wholesale fiction against an under-informed public. Brendan Cooper raises some interesting and thorny questions specifically about ghost blogging, here. [...]

  2. Ghost blogging? It’s going to happen. Get over it already. « Brendan Cooper, your Friendly PR Social Media Planner - April 4, 2008

    [...] I used to argue against ghost blogging. I used to think it was heinous. But that belief is changing. I’m coming to realise that the blogosphere – the beliefosphere – needs to step out from the garden. Big bucks are on their way, and we all need to understand and recognise this. [...]