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.
Here’s a slightly old article on the topic written by corporate and CEO blogging expert, Debbie Weil. Debbie’s author of The Corporate Blogging Book and runs a blog of her own on corporate blogging.
If you are hell bent on putting up a Ghost written blog. Hire a comedian and make it funny as hell. Something like The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs. Then at least it would be worth reading. It might even inspire the real CEO to write for himself.
Dave,Thanks for referring back to my discussion on IAOC. Amazing, isn’t it?! That was almost two years ago and we’re still wrestling with the same issues. Tout ça change… as they say.
One of the things that can be done to ensure genuine content for the readers is to have the CEO review every post that is put up and along with that maybe he can just jot down a few topics or points on which he/she is actually thinking and the writer can build on it.We at Mahindra’s have started our corporate blog (www.mahindrauniverse.com), we have a bunch of contributors for the blog who write on various topics. Do visit it and we would like to know your views on it.