Published On: Fri, Dec 18th, 2009

Ghost Bloggers – Who You Gonna Call?

Over the last week or so ghost blogging has been a big issue – a quick look at Dell’s B2B Social Media Huddle Twitter stream (#DellB2B) will show you a range of opinions.

As many have pointed out including Wolfstar’s Stuart Bruce there is some confusion over the difference between a fake blog (astroturfing) and a ghost blog – which is essentially writing a post on someone’s behalf or in conjunction with them. The analogy of a scriptwriter has been used to support the ghost blog argument.

There are clearly two schools of thought when it comes to ghost blogs: the purists who find this practice unacceptable and the pragmatists who realise that for a variety of reasons including time, writing ability and consistency that corporate blogs may need assistance and be ghosted by PR people. Agencies write press releases, publications, website copy, newsletters for clients etc – so why not corporate blogs?

Whilst, I sympathise with the pragmatist view – I think from the outset agencies need to explain that blogging is a discipline that involves time, not only that, it offers a different line from the corporate schpeel we are accustomed to. Essentially, blogs are an opportunity to demonstrate a more human side to an organisation. Also, what would happen if a member of the public quizzed a CEO about a ghost blog post? Would they be able to respond?

Although, agencies are well placed to ghost blog, I feel organisations will portray a more authentic side if corporate blogs are written by someone who works at the company, someone at the coal face – otherwise it is just a PR person’s take on the organisation.

About the Author

- Ben is a Content Marketing guy @Indeed. Interested in PR, Content, Big Data, Social Business, Comms, Strategy, Content, Analytics, Search, Food & Drink.

Displaying 6 Comments
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  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by A5hleigh: RT: @BenCotton ‘Ghost bloggers – who you gonna call’ Over the last week or so ghost blogging has [blog] http://tinyurl.com/yc2yry6 Please RT…

  2. Ethics and purist principles aside, the most boring corporate blogs tend to be written by PR people. I don’t usually read PR-written blogs just due to the lack of personal insight/entertainment they provide – they tend to be far too “on message” to be interesting!

    One thing I love about actual employee-written blogs is that you get a little insight to an organisation with each blog post that comes out. This is because they are written by people who know most about their respective field and give an element of depth a comms person can’t.

    If you want to surprise and engage your audience, ghost blogging really isn’t the way to go.

  3. TheLondoneer says:

    I agree that ‘ghost-written’ (as opposed to occasionally guest-written) blogs are drier than tinder – you might as well read mission statements or straight-up PR copy. It’s unfortunate that many organisations (including the one that pays my bills) keep their employee-written blogs walled up inside the organisation.

  4. Ben Cotton says:

    Dan – I think you are spot on. Real value can be derived from trusting and giving employees the freedom to blog. It offers a far more authentic insight into an organisation…which is a far cry from the ‘on message’ corporate blogs you mention. PR is about engaging audiences and more corporate bull on a blog isn’t the way to achieve it.

    Pete – I’m a firm believer that employee blogs should not be confined to the intranet or internal newsletter. Companies may think it is a gamble to host employee blogs as they lose an element control. However, the fact remains that if employees feel engaged/passionate enough to write about where they work, it will be a positive blog.

  5. Who cares?? At the end of the day you have web stats available, and if your ghost writer is most read than you are then they’re a better writer than whoever is doing it in your PR agency. The aim of a blog is to be read, just like the aim of a wine is to be drunk, no matter who made it.

    PR agencies who focus on writing blog should worry about guest blogging for link building, and link baiting if they have several blogs on the same topic. If your SEO strategy around your blogs is solid, then you will get results. No matter who the author is.

  6. pengar says:

    I cannot believe this is true!

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