Much marketing content is created without a need for a named “author.” Social media posts on corporate or brand accounts, website copy, email newsletters, and more, are simply from your company or brand.
But some content gains strength and influence when it comes from a voice of authority. This includes blog posts and bylined articles or opinion pieces contributed to industry and business media.
That authority typically comes from a leadership position, such as your company’s top executives, product development gurus or lead researchers. Unfortunately, those people typically don’t have the time to write the content your PR and marketing departments need for increase brand awareness.
And we all know that just because someone is great at what they do—whether that is leading a multi-billion-dollar company or guiding research and development—it doesn’t mean they are able to easily and accurately share their ideas and experience in writing.
The solution: ghostwriters.
While ghostwriting is a common necessity in PR and marketing, it should be done with attention to detail and the four following rules.
1. Use great writers
Ghostwriting is not a task to be assigned to just anyone. (Really, none of your content creation should be simply dropped on the nearest person with a keyboard, as I discuss here.) The reason ghostwriting should be done only by your best writers is that you are asking the writer to do two things: write a great article AND do so in the voice of the person who will be the named “author.”
Too often, writing is assigned to a junior staffer or intern, or rushed through because your PR and marketing staff is juggling too many different duties, with writing seeming to be the lowest priority.
But when you use great writers, whether your own in-house staff or an agency’s seasoned pros, you can ensure that the resulting articles not only meet the five criteria for quality content, but also fit your brand and the voice of the named author. By ensuring that the style of writing matches the personality of the author, whether they are formal or informal, a storyteller or fact-focused, increases the authenticity of the piece.
(For more on finding the right writers download Content Creation Mistake: Failing to Find and Enable Good Writers.)
2. Have something useful to share
When you are creating content that will have your company leader’s name attached, it is especially important that it have useful information or insights to share. If you are taking the time to create a bylined article or a personal blog post from the CEO or other top executive, there is definitely no room for a jumble of jargon, slogans and corporate promotion.
These types of articles or blog posts should share original research, interpretations of industry trends, seasoned advice on achieving success in your industry or other insights that make a difference for readers.
3. Lean on executive expertise
Ghostwriters may the ones putting words onto paper (or typing words into Word, as the case may be), but the ideas they are writing about are not simply their own. A first step in any ghostwriting project should be a time for the writer to spend with the executive he or she is writing for. After all, it is the executive’s expertise that is to be shared.
Depending on the individual, the initial sharing of information and opportunity for the ghostwriter to learn the style that will be portrayed can occur in many ways. An in-person meeting is best in order to get a feel for the individual’s personality and manner, but even a phone interview will give a great writer a window into how the other person speaks, phrases he or she uses, and the way he or she approaches the topic of the article.
In some cases, the executive may already have a structured plan for the item to be written, but simply needs a wordsmith to bring it together, in which case the ghostwriter might start from a list of bullet points or information the named author has provided.
4. Always review and approve
And, of course, because the executive’s name is the one that will be published alongside the article, he or she should always review, provide additional input and approve the blog post or bylined piece before it is published. This final review is essential to insure the information, position and voice presented are a true reflection of the person named as the author.
While there are some fields in which ghostwriting is never accepted—such as academia—when it comes to marketing and PR it is a common and necessary practice in order to provide prospects, leads, customers and media with valuable content that has the authority of a company leader to back it up. It is just one of the tools you will likely employ in order to grow your brand awareness. Learn more in How to Get Your CEO Published: The Ultimate Guide to Maximizing the Marketing Mileage of Contributed Articles.