On Jan. 4, David Davis, a speechwriter and corporate communications pro, published the results of a business blogging survey he commissioned. His researchers surveyed 750 business executives from the US, UK, South Africa, and Australia who publish company weblogs. Intriguingly, only 17% of these executives write their own blogs.
Hmmm, might a ghostwritten blog be a viable option, after all? I didn’t used to think so, but this survey has me wondering.
But first, a reality check…
Davis was thoughtful enough to publish the relevant portions of his survey. (Scroll to the bottom of that page.)
Technically, the survey asked, “Do you write your own blogs without advice?” I believe that wording could lead some executives to answer “No” if they regularly consult with colleagues or others about the content of their weblogs, even if they end up doing all or most of the writing themselves. It could also lead to a “No” response if an executive has someone else ghostwrite the occasional or rare blog entry.
So take that 17% figure with a grain of salt. Still, it is intriguing.
In my August 2004 article, “Is There a Market for Blog Ghostwriting?” I thought this strategy had obvious appeal to the time- or verbally-challenged executive, but I also thought it was especially likely to backfire.
Why? Here’s what I wrote in that article:
Yes, I do think itâ€™s possible to ghostwrite a blog but I think that would be much harder than ghostwriting speeches, autobiographies, articles, or other kinds of content that often get ghostwritten. Mainly because:
- Blogs only work if they are written in a very human voice.
- Youâ€™d have to â€œkeep up the actâ€? over time, and that gets terribly hard. Itâ€™s easier to spot the cracks in the facade or the discrepancies between the ghostblogger and the real person over time.
In my opinion, thereâ€™s a better approach if someone who wants to publish a blog cannot take the time or does not have the skill to communicate well directly in a blog format. In that case, he or she should employ the services of an editor for the blog and simply be honest with the audience about that.
I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s admitting a serious deficiency or sin. Rather, I think that would make the blog even more human. People each have unique strengths, and writing/blogging is definitely not everyoneâ€™s strength.
I still think I’m probably right about that. However, looking at the striking results of Davis’s survey, I have to wonder: If it’s possible that the majority of executive blogs are ghostwritten, then there may be some ways to help a ghostwritten blog succeed. Possibly.
…Of course, it could also be that most of those ghostwritten blogs are unbearably lame or fake, too. Davis’ survey made no attempt to correlate quality or success with ghostwritten blogs.
I’d love to find out more about this angle. If you have experience with ghostwritten executive blogs, how well do they work especially over time? Has the ghostwriting been disclosed at all? What are the most significant benefits and pitfalls of this strategy? Comment below or e-mail me.