Ghostwritten Executive Blogs Are Popular, but Are They Good?

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 it’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.
  • You’d have to “keep up the actâ€? over time, and that gets terribly hard. It’s easier to spot the cracks in the facade – or the discrepancies between the ghostblogger and the real person – over time.

In my opinion, there’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 don’t think that’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 everyone’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.

4 thoughts on Ghostwritten Executive Blogs Are Popular, but Are They Good?

  1. I’ve got a professional interest in this as a former ghost blogger and current ghost newsletter writer, but…

    i am no knowing how to say in English…

    Don’t you think that ghostwritten blogs would be vastly superior to executive-written ones? I mean, have you READ what those people write? And most blog readers won’t meet the person face to face, so the blogger is really more that “person” to them than the actual bearer of the name. Who is responsible for the executive’s personal barnd?

  2. Hi, Raincoaster.

    You might want to check out my first article on the blog ghostwriting theme, which I linked to above.

    There, I state that I think a better approach to ghostwriting a blog is to hire a professional editor to assist with or manage the executive’s blog and be transparent about that.

    After all, one thing executives are supposed to be good at is picking the right people for the job. I think that truism extends to executive blogs. Choosing people with appropriate skills to ensure quality content will only reflect well on any executive, I think.

    – Amy Gahran

  3. Pingback: The Ghost Blogging Controversy at Author-ized Articles

  4. Like most endeavors, it really depends on who the ghost writer is. Probably the most effective source are former reporters or analysts that follow the industry your in. So if you are a CEO hiring a ghost blogger, make sure you carve out enough time each week/month to meet with the writer. The writer needs a bit of time to understand the CEO’s unique situation and be able to write meaningful commentary that reflects the CEO’s positions and thoughts. Having a blog requires an ongoing commitment.

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