PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

Ghostwriting Executive Blogs

Following the social media workshop our PRSSA Chapter hosted last week, we briefly talked about the voice behind corporate blogs. The question then became who really is writing the CEO’s blog? Is it really the head of the company? Or is the blog ghostwritten?

I’ll tell you what it shouldn’t be.

Social media provides the unique opportunity for a company to connect with its consumers directly. Whether you’re using Facebook to connect with fans, conversing with consumers on Twitter or even hosting a photo submission contest on Flickr, you are doing what social media is meant for: having a conversation.

Even better is that some companies have taken social media to the next level are are now responding to those who aren’t fans of their company. For example, if you complain about Comcast on Twitter, chances are their customer service department will be contacting you to see how they can help.

When a company starts utilizing a corporate blog, the idea is that it makes the normally exclusive executives accessible for everyone. Not just the media, not just other executives. You and I. Between media interviews and carefully constructed statements, people often don’t have the opportunity to see executives of a big corporation on a personal level. Social media is that opportunity.

Treating social media as traditional media is ineffective. Reading a blog prepped by a communications staff is the same thing as reading an article in the newspaper that starts, “according to a statement by Chief Executive Officer…” And people know. Because people are visiting a social platform on their own time and their own accord, the chances are they aren’t looking to be lectured. They are looking to take part in the conversation.

Here’s two examples of great corporate blogs:

  • Although it’s written from a PR guy, Richard Edelaman – 6 a.m. is a fantastic example of an executive blog. It’s honest, straight to the point and itsn’t trying to directly sell his product.
  • Another idea for a blog comes from Google. While it’s cool to see what the executive leadership is up to, as a consumer, I also think it’s cool to hear from the employees. A corporation is made up of a lot of different people doing a lot of different things, and The Official Google Blog captures this well. Even cooler is that a friend of a friend was one of the guest posts. What are the chances?

I see social media as the opportunity for you to connect with others. As an executive in the company, I think it’s best to either write the blog yourself or don’t at all. What’s the point of hearing more of what you get in traditional media on social media platforms?

My question is simple: is it ethical for a blog to be when in fact it is run by the public relations staff? Is it even worth it to run a ghostwritten blog? Should there be some kind of disclosure stating that this blog is run by a communications staff?

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4 Responses

  1. michaelsavoni says:

    Nick,

    This is a big issue in the PR world- within this lies the problem that many CEOs don’t have the time to blog or interact with customers via sites like Twitter. Often, we’re seeing companies/clients reaching out to agencies to have agencies blog for them- it can’t get any more impersonal than that.

    I agree in a sense that if you’re going to say its from your CEO, it better be from your CEO, but I think it’s also fine if you have a company blog/twitter/facebook and don’t disclose who is running it. That way, you don’t put false impressions in the audience’s mind of who they are communicating with.

    Ghost blogging is just a worldwide newsletter- an attempt at looking good.

  2. Ari Adler says:

    A company blog can be written by the communications staff.

    A CEO blog should be written by the CEO.

    CEOs need to learn to write blogs, be on Twitter, give speeches and presentations, talk to the media — too many years of hand-holding of CEOs means we have too many of them in positions of power without being truly powerful.

  3. nice post

    […This is a big issue in the PR world- within this lies the problem that many CEOs don’t have the time to blog or interact with customers via sites like Twitter. Often, we’re seeing companies/clients reaching out to agencies to have agencies blog for them- it can’t get any more impersonal than that…]

  4. Natalie says:

    Nick,
    This is an extremely insightful and poignant post. I can’t tell you how many people come into my office and tell me they “need a blog.” Adding value, not volume is one of my favorite SM catch phrases, and you’ve really illustrated that point in your post.
    Nice work. You’re a rising star, my friend.

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