For the uninitiated, ghostblogging is simply ghostwriting for someone else’s blog. It’s generally frowned upon.
Is it ethical for a PR agency to write an unattributed post for a client’s blog?
First, we need to define what type of blog we’re talking about.
Corporate blogs tend to take two paths:
—There are personal blogs that happen to align themselves with an organization (as in the case of PR-Squared, which is my personal blog but which also serves as the primary blog of SHIFT Communications).
—And, there are more corporate-style blogs in which the posts are more officious, a la a corporate newsletter run on a blogging engine (in this latter case, sometimes the author is known, sometimes not).
Next, we need to make an acknowledgement: blogging is a tyrannical activity.
A quarterly newsletter is a breeze – heck, even a weekly newsletter feels infinitely achievable — compared to a blog. In my deepest baritone, I am fond of telling clients, “If you are posting less than 2 – 3x a week, what you’re publishing is not a blog but a newsletter.” Blogging evangelists expect a busy executive to scratch out some reasonably compelling content 2 – 3x a week … It is an incredibly difficult pace to maintain.
For the personal blogger, the fact that one’s failures are one’s own, and that the blog can suit their changing tastes (and schedules), relieves some of that pressure.
For the successful corporate blogger, however, their content becomes part-and-parcel of an overarching communications strategy. It impacts inbound lead flow, thought leadership, SEO. There can be no retreat!
Because of the increasingly must-have nature of official corporate blogs, in-house marketers will insist that the content flow must.not.stop. And since these in-house marketers tend to have limited control over the executive blogger, there needs to be a fall-back strategy.
More and more, that fall-back strategy is going to include supplemental ghostblogging.
You can rail against it as a black mark against authenticity, but, it is happening and it is a trend that will only grow. Not enough people see this as a bright line separating “good” from “bad” to forestall the rise of ghostblogging.
After long deliberation, SHIFT execs agreed:
Ghostblogging for a corporate-aligned but PERSONAL blog (like this one) is not ethical.
However, ghostblogging for a CORPORATE blog is no more unethical than drafting a piece for the company newsletter, especially since the final draft would need to be approved by a client representative.
(It did not go unremarked that, in these latter cases, PR agency pros often hold as much knowledge as our client contacts. We sit in on analyst briefings, pore over and/or draft many official client materials, etc. Our knowledge is not false, even if it is not our name on the byline.)
So … “Ghostblogging is an approved activity?!”
Now that you’ve read my rationale, what are your thoughts?
Posted on: January 28, 2010 at 7:41 am By Todd Defren