Is Corporate Ghost Blogging Ethical?

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Should upper management hire ghost bloggers to pen their blog posts? How, and when, should ghost bloggers be used? Some experts are dead set against bloggers, while others argue that no harm is done by ghost blogging.

Mark Schaefer everything-pr

Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer, writing at Ragan.com, provides some compelling guidelines that ensure that a corporate ghost blogger works closely with the executive to make sure that their opinion is reflected accurately in any blog posts or other materials created by the ghost blogger.

Schaefer includes checks and balances in his ghostwriting process such as having the executive provide key thoughts to the ghost blogger and making sure that the executive approves each blog post. He even suggests that blog contributors be acknowledged on the blog’s “about” page. Under these guidelines, it seems the ghost blogger would be functioning as an assistant to the busy CEO or other busy executive.

Schaefer’s guidelines for ghost blogging seem very reasonable, so what is the issue with ghost blogging?

According to those who frown on the practice of ghost blogging for executives, the main argument seems to be that ghost blogging cannot truly capture the voice of the executive and therefore cannot accurately represent him or her online.

There could even be some deception going on if a ghost blogger is more knowledgeable and articulate than the management player that he or she represents. I think there’s a particular danger of deception if the executive gives the ghost blogger free reign, doesn’t review posts before they are published, or simply rubber stamps whatever the ghost writer writes.

Of course, it’s very important to note that ghost writing is not limited to blogging. Very few executives (or politicians, or celebrities) write their own material. That bestselling autobiography written by your favorite celebrity–probably ghostwritten. That touching speech you heard your favorite politician make on TV–also probably ghostwritten.

Here are some other posts on the topic (in no particular order).

  • In Defense of Ghost Blogging: Social Media Ethical Dilemmas, by Todd Defren, CEO of Shift Communications on PR Squared.
  • Why Consider Ghost Blogging, by Michael Reynolds.
  • The Ethics, Or Lack Thereof, Of Ghost Blogging, by Jason Falls on Social Media Explorer
  • Ghost Blogging Is a Fraud, by Andy Wibbels
  • Why Ghost Blogging is Wrong by Dave Fleet
  • 5 Alternatives to Ghost Blogging, by Tac Anderson on New Comm Biz

What do you think of this controversy? Would you advise an executive to hire a ghost blogger? Why, or why not?

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks Ashley,

    Personally, whenever I see a book, article, or speech published by a well-known person I always assume it is ghost-written. I don’t know if it’s because I’m naturally somewhat of a skeptic :-), or if it’s because I’m “in the business.” (It’s probably a little of both.)

    It would be nice, of course, if celebrities would share credit (by Joe Celebrity as told to Ashley Nicole), but often this is not the case. :-(

  2. says

    I am so tired of hearing people argue against corporate blogging! As a ghost blogger, I would like to reiterate every pro-ghost blogging argument: A CEO is hired to run a corporation and writers are hired to write. We already write speeches, “letters from the CEO” in company newsletters, etc. so why not add corporate blog to the list? As long as the ideas are from the CEO and everything is approved before being posted, I see nothing wrong with this practice.

    Laura makes a good point; when you see a communication from anybody high-ranking be it in the corporate, political or entertainment world, chances are they didn’t write it themselves. It’s been happening for years! Ghost writing is not new! Blogs just give us another platform to create a new voice for a company, brand or individual.

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