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?