Why more and more executives are turning to ghost bloggers to help them establish voice, authority and industry leadership. If hiring your own “ghost” sounds appealing, check out these do’s and don’ts to help you and your writer succeed.
I hate to be the one to burst your bubble but, yes, it’s true – not every blog is penned by the ‘author’. Sometimes what you are reading has been created by a behind-the-scenes crafter of words – a ghostwriter.
I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when I told him I was writing a blog post for the senior executive of a well-known brand.
“What?” he cried. “You mean, when I read Seth Godin’s blog, it’s not really him?”
While I can’t speak for Seth Godin, I know that many executives hire writers to handle their communications. At the beginning of my career, I was fortunate to land a contract working as a consultant at the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa. At the time, (former) Prime Minister Brian Mulroney kept a team of approximately twelve writers busy penning everything, including speeches, internal memos, letters and congratulatory messages. Missives included birthday greetings to Canadian centenarians, through to high profile communications received by global leaders. It was fascinating to watch just how well a trusted writer could personify the PM on paper, while ensuring policy and protocol were never breached.
The fact is, most executives simply don’t have time to sit at a computer and write their thoughts and insights on a particular subject, though most of them would like to. Many of today’s executives have strong ideals as well as innovative ideas, and are charged with leading transformation and change. Developing and communicating thought leadership across a platform that leverages social media vehicles is not simply appealing, it is good for business.
So, if you have the desire but lack the time or skills required to write regularly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with hiring a professional to prepare blogs for you. Your ghostwriter can be researching and revising, creating well-written, compelling pieces to be posted to your website or on your LinkedIn profile while you’re busy with more high-value activities – like running the company, for instance.
Since you do want the blog to sound exactly like you’ve written it yourself, you need to work with your ghost to make their job easier.
- Have a face-to-face or telephone conversation with them so he or she gets a sense of who you are, what you are passionate about, and what face you want to present to your readers. Easy-going? Humorous? Sentimental? All business, all the time? Polished or laid-back? Or all of the above, depending on the subject at hand?
- Spend a few minutes discussing the focus of each blog, and let them know where they can find additional information if research is required. If possible, give them a go-to person to contact if they have questions or concerns and you’re not available to talk to them.
- Give them enough time to craft a good blog – rush deadlines can sometimes be met, but the more lead time the better. In fact, if you can agree upon a schedule, your ghostwriter will know that they have to schedule time daily, weekly or monthly to work on your blogs, and it will be a rare occasion that a deadline is missed.
- Brain-storming ideas allows the writer to develop a Blog Bank, so if you’re on vacation or otherwise unavailable, there are plenty of subjects for them to draw from. Take time now to save time later.
Once the blog is ready, you or a trusted associate should vet it. Perhaps your legal or PR team will want a look at it, too, depending on content.
And then, offer feedback when you can. Like the piece? Let the writer know. Love the piece? Definitely let them know! It is a great source of pride for a ghostwriter to know that they’ve done their job well. Since they can’t openly take credit for a great blog, it’s nice to hear that their work is appreciated. One executive I work for told me that one of the blogs I’d written brought a tear to her eye, and that I’d perfectly expressed what she didn’t know how to say. That’s Motivation: 101, all right, and it’s the reason I do what I do.