Ghost in the blog

July 27, 2008

Recently, I was talking to this friend of mine (don’t you love stories that start this way?) who told me there’s an edict in his very-large-company that every executive should have an internal blog.  The blog would serve as a way of explaining each executive’s departmental priorities, provide visibility to important issues that would benefit from other points of view, and encourage more collaboration between teams.  To me these seem like reasonable objectives for an internal blog and the potential informality of a blog could serve as a welcome antidote to normal sterility of corporate communications.

The problem is that most of the executives at his company didn’t have the time or inclination to write the blog themselves.  Instead, they asked their marketing or communication lead to ghost-write it for them.  My friend was horrified and used this as further evidence that his employer should be rated as Web 1.1 on the innovation scale.

I too was dismayed, arguing that ghost-writing breaks the basic element of trust between a blogger and her readers.  Blogs should represent the ideas and words of the identified author.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s OK if the executive doesn’t actually type and post the entries, especially if he admits it.  Apparently, this is what Bill Marriott does.

Not long after this conversation, my friend sent me an uncannily timely post from Dave Kellogg entitled ”Should My CEO Have a Ghost-Written Blog?”  Dave agrees with our assessment and has several strong arguments, including my personal favorite:

If the marketing / PR team writes the blog, it will – with all due respect –  probably end up easily identified as marketing-produced pabulum, rephrasing and reinforcing company press releases. Odds are you can’t bluff this, so you shouldn’t try.

I’m a marketing professional and I couldn’t agree more.

All of this got me wondering what percentage of blogs are silently authored by someone other than the person on the bi-line but I wasn’t able to find any credible statistics.  Anyone have any ideas?

No ghost blogging, no ghost tweeting: (@jbecher)