Is Ghost Blogging Fraud?

Should ghost writer's name to be kept quiet?Andy Wibbels writes a well-read blog “Small business blogging for instant global impact.”  In one of his latest posts he stirred the pot when he stated that “Ghost Blogging is Fraud.” He received quite a few comments, both pro and con.  I added a comment after a lot of thought.

In reviewing what I wrote, I stand by what I said, but made some tweaks.   I think this is an important topic and would like to hear from our bloggers and readers.  What do think?  Here is my point of view.

The word “fraud” is much too strong in my view.  Having worked with CEOs and other top executives over the years on their communications, I never met one who simply let a writer take off expressing his own thoughts and POVs.

Ideally, the CEO and the writer discuss the general theme and POV of the article and the key messages to be communicated.  Sometimes the CEO does a first rough draft that the writer whips into shape.

The key is this: is the POV, language and voice the CEOs?  In the case of employees who are thirsting to hear more from their leader, then it is more important that they hear from the CEO, whether every single word was written by her or she got an assist from a writer.

We keep talking about the messenger (the CEO or her ghost writer). What about the recipients? What are their information needs? Isn’t consistent communications that reflects the CEO’s heartfelt opinions (possibly put into words by a writer) the objective?

I do believe times are changing, and that more CEOs will start giving credit to writers, especially in social media like a blog, which is no doubt a more personal expression.  Maybe at the bottom of the article, something like “Written with John Smith.”

On other hand, if you are a writer/blogger as I am, it would be foolish to have some one write my blogs: they are my work product and go into my portfolio. Besides, I enjoy the writing.

There seems to be agreement that ghost writing a speech for the CEO, or a byliner or op-ed piece for a newspaper is OK, presented as written by the CEO.  They supposedly represent that leader’s views.

So why is a blog different?  Why does social media make it different?   Does your CEO, if you work for a company, or your clients, if you are a consultant, ask you to write their blogs without giving you credit?  And is it honest?

  4 comments for “Is Ghost Blogging Fraud?

  1. February 28, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Well put Jeannette! I agree with your POV.

  2. February 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I do not think it is fraud. I have several SEO clients that includes blogging. Many do not feel they have the skills to blog, so all I do is help them express their thoughts. Nothing goes live until it is approved.

  3. March 1, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Thank Jeannette for the link back!

  4. March 2, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I believe there is a fine line between unauthentic blogging practices and authentic practices.

    First, Jeannette, I completely agree with you when you say that “Fraud” is way to strong of a word. Seriously.

    If you hire someone to write your blogs who provides accurate and valuable information to your blog, there is nothing wrong with that. As long as the company head reviews the blog and adds / changes anything that takes away from the value of the post or is an inaccurate depiction of the brand.

    I don’t think it’s right to lie about having someone else write your blog. If someone asks you if you have a ghost blogger you should tell them the truth. “Yes, I do have a ghost blogger. We go over all topics in advance and we discuss what should go into the posts.”

    Ghost writing for social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter though can be a bit unauthentic. Again, there is a fine line. You want to build trust and relationships with people online–don’t always hire others to do it for you.

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