Michelle Sullivan Communications

Ghost blogging: the peanut gallery wades in

Ok, so it’s a beautiful summer morning, but the weight of my promise to write about ghost blogging is getting heavier, so before heading out to Jean Talon Market, I’ve decided to go on the record :

Ghost blogging. Thumbs down.

From a strictly mercantilistic point of view, I should be all for ghost blogging. I mean, educating my clients about the power of social media and then letting them have a go at it without reaping the financial rewards sounds like a bad business model. Really, if I were a ‘good’ business person, I would be accepting all those requests to ghost blog instead of contenting myself with the odd strategic consulting fee that might come my way as I hold my client’s hand through seemingly treacherous waters. Or crisis management fee, should something go terribly, terribly wrong.

But my idea of being a good business person includes being a good PR professional… and so goes beyond strictly financial considerations.

Ghost blogging doesn’t sit right with me, ethically. Entering into an ongoing conversation with Monsieur-et-Madame-tout-le-monde as if I were my client is frankly kinda creepy. For me, the whole point of social media is the removal of barriers between people : between companies and their clients, for example. It is, and should remain, a direct connection.

The problem with social media, I find, is convincing a client to invest time in it. I don’t actually know too many clients who would consider it a wise investment of their time to start blogging, and I’m still amassing the arguments that will be required to change their mind. Start-ups are a little easier to convince : they’re used to working crazy hours for little money anyway. They’re willing to sacrifice in the short term in the hopes of reaping rewards in the long term. What they want is to get their name out there. Blogging is perfect for them. More established companies? Not so much.

Clients need reassurance and so I’m slowly building up a list of clients willing to take the social media plunge and become case studies for successful social media execution. None of them are big corporate entities .. at least not yet. I’m working with Rats de Ville, a Montreal art online webzine, on the vlog front. We’ll see where that takes us. In my role as Canada’s Telecommunications Hall of Fame Director of Corporate Outreach, I’m setting up a Facebook page to promote this non-profit group’s mission and activities. A blog and/or podcast may be on the horizon if that goes well. This could actually work, for this client, given that I’m on the inside — one of a small team of consultants supporting an association that currently has a payroll of one. Wouldn’t consider that ghost blogging or ghost podcasting (can one ghost podcast?!).

Ghost blogging strikes me as something along the lines of a Cyrano Syndrome – not sure what the point is of pretending you’re entering into direct dialogue with your client base when someone else’s fingers are on the keyboard. Lovely fingers though they might be, in the world of social media, the company president’s are always the loveliest.

So to paraphrase (or maybe quote .. not sure about my memory) David Jones, from a recent edition of the InsidePR podcast : Ghost blogging. Don’t do it. It’s stupid.

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  1. Pierre

    2007.06.01 @ 09:29

    Je m’apprête à rédiger un billet sur les arguments à utiliser pour convaincre les clients de s’intéresser aux médias sociaux (je crois que le discours de vente des protagonistes des médias sociaux n’est pas au point) et voilà que je tombe sur ton excellent billet, Michelle, qui nourrira ma réflexion. Quant au Ghost blogging, attention il y a de très grands risques et je ne m’aventurerais pas là-dedans.

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