A few days ago, my friend Susan Iskiwitch asked for my thoughts on PR agencies ghost blogging for clients. The timing was interesting since I had just been asked a similar question by Scott Meis as part of a Q & A post for his blog.
PR folks have been ghost writing for clients forever – bylined articles, quotes in news releases, speeches, key messages, opening remarks, etc. To be honest, I’ve never thought twice about it. It’s part of the job. It’s what we do. We determine the best way to communicate strategically and then set out to painstakingly write prose that delivers.
It may seem like splitting hairs, but in my mind there’s a difference between ghost writing the typical items mentioned above and ghost writing blog posts, Twitter “tweets,” and blog comments. That’s because there is a different expectation in place when it comes to social media engagement.
When reading a newspaper article with quotes or watching an interview on your local TV news affiliate, there’s no expectation of interacting with the person being interviewed. It’s passive.
Not so in social media. People engage with the tools because they want to connect with people. If you don’t tell people that in fact an outside party is blogging on your behalf, then your social media efforts are a sham. And when you’re found out, you will lose trust.
So let’s say you are up front with the fact that your agency is blogging on your behalf. That’s not ghost blogging, but I’m still not a huge fan of it. Chances are good that no one will get upset about it since you’ve been transparent, but you miss out on one of the biggest benefits of social media, which is its ability to humanize your brand. In my opinion, the best way to bring your organization’s humanity to life is with voices from within the company.
Agencies can bring a lot of value to the content their clients’ create online in numerous ways, but I don’t think ghost blogging is one of them.
Am I looking at it the wrong way? What do you think about ghost blogging?
*Image by Stephen Groeneveld.