A post by PR Columnist, Alison Kenney.
So you’ve been asked to ghostwrite a blog (or other social media status updates)…
PR pros have always served as ghostwriters in some capacity – speech writing, drafting executive quotes for press releases, developing ‘talking points’ for interviews… With the explosion in content marketing and more and more opportunities for self-publishing via social media, the role of ghostwriter has become even more common. I won’t get into the ethics of ghostwriting here. A fine and thorough discussion on that topic has already been held at the Marketing Profs blog when Beth Harte wrote Ghost Writing, Social Media and Ethics.
If you find yourself in the position of ghostwriting a blog, or tweets, or Facebook status updates, here are 7 tips for doing it well:
- Get in character – This is an obvious tip, but one that can be easily overlooked. If you’re writing a blog post on behalf of an executive, you should think about examples and references that person would use. Which media would they cite or retweet? How would they address industry leaders or bloggers (whom they may have a personal relationship with)? An easy way to remember these character references is to create a style sheet – a trick that those in the publishing world are familiar with. Copy editors use style sheets to refer to spellings of common words in the text (for consistency). Authors and “real” ghostwriters use it to keep track of their character(s)’ preferences.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate – Remember that old saying, “a stitch in time saves nine”? Up-front planning is essential and so is an agreement with your boss that covers the rules of engagement, the editing and approval process for posts and an understanding of how responses and comments are handled. And timeframes! Don’t forget to talk about timeliness.
- Play it straight – There are many different shades of ghostwriting. Are you writing copy based on the perspective of one person? Or writing in the voice of a company or brand that needs to stick to core marketing messages? Whatever role and voice you are tasked with, stick to it.
- Be a professional at all times – social media is certainly a pulpit, but should never be used by a professional as a bully pulpit. And for pete’s sake, consider the bridges that don’t need to be burned and don’t do this.
- Know when to call in your boss – This is sort of an extension of Tip #2. It goes beyond notifying your boss when someone comments on the post or providing status reports on the SEO results. The purpose of social media is to engage with one another online – part of a PR professional’s role is to identify opportunities for their boss or client to make those connections and as a ghostwriter you are in a unique position to initiate and identify opportunities.
- Don’t misrepresent your identity and/or motives online — I can’t really think of any time when it makes sense to fool a reader. Most audiences know that the busy CEO who is communicating with them didn’t draft, edit and post their own lines. Unless it’s obvious that the CEO does do that (in which case a ghostwriter is not in the picture). Audiences accept that – to an extent – and they also assume that the ghostwritten words they’re reading reflect the true intent of the CEO.
- Be trustworthy – Trust is essential in all client relationships so earn that trust in your role as a ghostwriter. Start by building in extra review time and making time to discuss topic ideas and run concepts by your boss. Demonstrate that you are on top of things by having the right tracking mechanisms in place. These practices will seem more and more natural as time goes by.
Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.
Photo credit: striatic
Date: October 4th, 2011 / Author: Lindsay
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