Ghost writing for a blog – important for content creation or a vile assault on essence of blogging?

Okay maybe not a vile assault…but a very interesting topic. There have been some interesting pieces written on the issue of does ghost writing violate the essence of blogging? At their core, blogs are suppose to allow the author a platform to express his or her ideas to an open audience – the world wide web. The early days of blogging that was exactly what the medium was used for – suddenly individuals, like myself, could leverage tools like WordPress, Blogger or Typepad to put together a simple site that would allow us to type or thoughts and ideas to be broadcast and sent throughout cyberspace. However over the past few years, corporations have woken up to the power of blogging – how it allowed companies or organizations another tool to broadcast their positions, thoughts, ideas, allowed them to react more rapidly to events and brought them that much closer to their customers and prospects. Of course anytime a tool like this gets into the corporate world it also become subject to HR departments, legal, PR, marketing and all the other silos that have the potential to sap the power of the blog.

When I get a press release from Company X and their CEO said “blah blah blah” at no point do I really believe those words came out of the CEO’s mouth let alone that they even saw the press release…well I do know of one large firm where the CEO still edits every press release…not sure you pay a CEO to do that, but I digress. However when it comes to blogs, if that company’s CEO has a blog, it must be his or her hand at the keyboard or via Dragon Naturally Speaking that is composing the posts. I also trust that legal and PR, for the most part, are not mandated to give the blog post a “once over” before it goes live. Of course I understand that there could come a time when certain topics need to be discussed with legal and the PR department to ensure it is worth putting out in public. But for the most part, if an executive of a company is blogging I trust it is because they truly want to, they are the ones creating the content, they are speaking in their words and expressing their thoughts. For this reason I think ghost writing for a company blog that is clearly associated to an individual in the firm is a no no. Otherwise I will just read the corporate brochures and web copy. The whole point of having an executive or individual associated with the company blog about the company or relevant business is to provide the audience with a personal link to that entity…not with more marketing spin.

Having said that, if a company has a blog that is under a corporate umbrella – for example Ariba or Kinaxis who have corporate blogs with multiple authors – they could leverage ghost bloggers. Then again with a corporate blog that provides an umbrella with multiple authors it is about the messaging that comes from the company not an individual within the corporation…otherwise they should have their own branded blog.  So for these corporate branded blogs, feel free to leverage ghost bloggers, I still rather have the person that has their name associated with the ghost blogger write themselves, but it is much less egregious than ghost blogging for an individually branded blog.

Some other blog posts on the topic:

http://stevefarnsworth.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/is-ghost-writing-ethical/

http://www.pr-squared.com/index.php/2010/09/is-ghostblogging-ethical

http://paulrobertspr.blogspot.com/2010/09/is-ghost-blogging-ethical.html

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