Teresa Horscroft's blog

Teresa Horscroft is a PR consultant who helps companies in the information technology and marketing sectors to raise awareness of their products and services and increase sales.

11 February 2010

Is it acceptable to have a blog ghostwritten?

A recent blog by Vikki Chowney at Reputation Online tackled the issue of whether ghost-writing a blog is an acceptable practice. She identified two main opposing schools of thought on the issue. First are the digital natives who believe ghost-blogging to be an unacceptable practice and argue that the whole idea of a blog is that it captures the first-hand views and opinions of the author. Some of these people even deem ghost-blogging to be illegal. They suggest that CEOs and other ‘bloggers’ have no idea what they are putting their name to.

Secondly there are the agencies that don’t see ghost-blogging as any different from ghost-writing by-lined articles. Essentially this is where I stand. In both cases the content of the article is discussed (or at least should be) with the author to ensure that their opinions and expertise are accurately represented. Once written the author reviews and then agrees to the article or blog copy before it is submitted and published. Even though blogging needs to have a quicker turnaround and the tone of the piece is entirely different from a by-lined article,the procedure is really no different. If the idea or beliefs expressed in the blog were firstly asserted and secondly agreed by the ‘author’ then there should be no case, legal or otherwise, to discredit the blogger as bogus. One commentator on Vikki’s blog, Alex Blythe, makes an important point. He says authors trust ghost-writers to present their opinions in a clear and engaging way. Of course they do! Just because someone can’t write or doesn’t have the time to, they can still have their views published with the help of a ghost-writer or ghost-blogger.

On other hand if the author really has not authorised the text and someone is blogging his own opinions under the banner of the CEO then I am inclined to agree with the digital natives on this one: that the by-line should be attributed to the real author (the actual writer). The same applies to anything else that is essentially written as a by-line rather than the company line.

To summarise, yes, ghost blogging should be acceptable with a few fundamental rules. We should be encouraging companies to communicate in a more open and transparent way with all of their audiences. Blogging is one of the ways they can do this. It gives a company a real face and invites customers and other influencers to interact, which could be invaluable in building brand loyalty as well as influencing corporate strategy and sales.