Ghostwriting thought leadership

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A good piece by Lauren Ingram (at least I assume she wrote it :) on whether we need to start getting more transparent about the ghost writing that goes on in corporate content strategy.

As you probably know much of the ‘thought leadership’ content produced by CEO and higher management in big enterprise is ghost written, often without any input or even signoff from them before it is published. This typically happens in blog posts on the corporate’s own site, but can also extend to guest posts on other sites, as well as publications and industry magazines.

It’s kind of an accepted practice these days, but is it time to rethink this. Lauren notes:

Let’s look at academia, where using someone else’s writing is absolutely off limits. If you’re caught paying a shady essay mill to write your paper, you’ll probably be suspended and may face expulsion. You didn’t do the research. You didn’t write the paper. Your academic reputation would be in tatters.

Somehow, these consequences don’t apply in a professional setting. Instead, if you pay someone to write your professional guest post, your reputation could be bolstered instead.

Personally I think people are generally happy with the idea of a ghost writer – but the question Lauren raises is whether the ghost writers deserve some of the recognition:

When some celebrities sign book deals for memoirs, co-writers are included in the byline, just in a smaller font. It might seem strange at first, but why couldn’t bloggers use this same system? Or at the very least, put some sort of disclosure at the bottom of the story to acknowledge the name of the person who actually wrote the post.

In much the same way as a Prime Minister’s or President’s speechwriter(s) may themselves receive accolades – is it time we moved to a similar model for our thought leadership writers?

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I'm the co-host of HubShots and the CEO of XEN - helping mid-large B2B companies with their digital marketing and lead generation.

Craig Bailey

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