BOO! It’s Ghost Blogging

In my past post I touched briefly on the issue of Ghost Blogging, but I feel that it’s a larger issue that presents more ethical issues than previously stated.

Todd Defren on PR-Squared discusses the differences between Ghost Blogging in a personal blogs that are associated with a company as compared to corporate blogs which are more bureaucratic. It writes about the difficulties of maintaining a good, solid blog–the time-commitment.

It’s very easy to think that Ghost Blogging is wrong. Jason Falls for example, believes that ghost authoring of any kind is a dishonest profession for very obvious reasons. We preach about transparency in corporate communication and yet Ghost Blogging negates this principle completely. If you hide behind another person’s by-line, then you are hiding that fact from your audience. Also, it is unfair to the ghost authors of the piece who gets no credit or glory for their writing.

HOWEVER

PR-Squared illustrates the other side of this dilemma beautifully. They compare Ghost Blogging to any other type of company writing such as newsletters, explaining that such writings aren’t written by one person, but instead are a collaborative effort. A corporate blog is more a product from that company and needs to be maintained in order to be well received. It is also assumed that they would not put just anyone at the helm of a corporate blog, especially if under the name of the CEO or another important executive. The ghosting author would have to know the issues, as well as the inner workings of the company in order to accurately imitate someone high in the ranks. This means that the ghost author’s information isn’t incorrect, despite the in-authenticity of the name attached to the post.

Paul Roberts,(a fellow PR blogger) brings up the issue of content being greater than source, meaning that what is said is more important than who says it. He uses the example of Reagan’s speech on the Challenger tragedy. Roberts explains how moving the speech was, and that it wasn’t until later that he found out the speech was written by someone else. His point is that the words were still beautiful, and it didn’t change the meaning for him by knowing that the poetic phrases didn’t come from our President’s mind. As long as we have valuable content to consider, does it matter where it comes from?

Do we value authenticity over content? Is Ghost Blogging truly unethical (by definition) or merely insincere practice?

Remember to try to distinguish ethics from morals


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4 Comments

Filed under Lisa Shea's Blog

4 responses to “BOO! It’s Ghost Blogging

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I like how you also showed the other view of Ghost Blogging in this post. There are always two sides to every story. You do raise some good points on this subject. I didn’t think about the fact that if the CEO is willing to have someone else write for him/her, it should be a knowledgeable authentic person because it will have the CEO’s name attached to it. I guess if the content is accurate and valuable, it pulls greater weight than the source.

  2. Whether ghost blogging is ethical or wrong can depend on the situation, but I don’t agree with its use, unless the true author is acknowledged with a disclaimer present. If a CEO doesn’t have time/dedication to make the commitment to maintain a blog, then other employees shouldn’t have to do it for him/her. I would feel cheated if I was reading what I thought was a CEO blog with a name attached, but all of the content wasn’t actually from the mind of that individual. I think it’s both unethical and poor practice. I believe that employees deserve proper acknowledgement for their efforts.

    Also, I really like the cute ghost image on your page. It adds a touch of humor to what can be debated as a serious issue.

  3. Sarah Bruton

    That’s a good point Lisa. I sometimes feel that knowing that the person giving out the information is speaking on behalf of themselves. The only way I can compare this idea to is when a song comes out and you think it’s personally linked to that artists troubles in life, then you find out some producer wrote it, it looses some sentimental points with me. I still like the song, just like the content and message are important to cover, but I think when you’re making something public, it is best to talk from you individual point of view.

  4. Hi Lisa, thanks for including me in your post. Nice job covering different points of view on the topic. As a PR professional for over a decade I’ve written too many emails, quotes, speeches and feature articles to now say that any ghost writing is by nature unethical, but blogging is supposed to be more personal and authentic, so it does require a different standard.

    Again, good stuff on your blog and thanks for including a link to my recent post.

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