I received this question the other day from an old friend:
Clearly, having [our CEO] write his own real blog would be ideal, but do you think it’s possible that a ghost-written blog is better than nothing at all, or is the downside not worth it? If you’re against it, [do you have] any ideas on how to explain it to him (and the marketing team pushing for it) … ? And if you think it’s doable, [do you have] any advice to him/the writers?
My short answer is a vehement no. If your CEO is going to have a blog then it should be his or her own. Why? Because, in a word, to do otherwise would be misleading.
- The promise of a blog is connection and interaction with the author on topics of shared interest.
- Readers expect blogs to actually be written by their stated authors.
- If the marketing / PR team writes the blog, it will — with all due respect — probably end up easily identified as marketing-produced pabulum, rephrasing and reinforcing company press releases. Odds are you can’t bluff this, so you shouldn’t try.
- Even if you have a highly talented and knowledgeable person write the blog it will fail to capture the CEO’s voice. When people meet me, they feel like they know me (and in a sense they actually do) because of the blog.
- If the CEO simply wishes to air a few corporate thoughts every once in a while, you could accomplish that goal with a “CEO corner” in a corporate newsletter or on the company’s website.
- If, on the other hand, the company wants to use a blog to comment on industry topics of interest that aren’t necessarily appropriate for its own corporate website, then why not create a corporate blog — i.e., the company X corporate blog. With this solution, you’re not misleading the audience: they know they’re reading a corporate blog, and you can make it a multi-contributor blog where, perhaps every once in a while, the CEO weighs in.
If, despite these arguments, you are hell-bent on a ghost-written CEO blog, then I do have this advice.
- Only write posts that are the direct result of live interviews with the CEO on topics that he or she chooses.
- Instruct the writer to suppress his/her own voice and instead work very hard to capture the voice of the CEO — in tone, in diction, and in style.