Ghost Blogging: Ethical?

Photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash

Post by: Ani Clifford

 

We’ve all heard of ghost tweeting, but there is a less known version of this called ghost blogging. This is often where a social media team writes on behalf of an executive member of a company. The question is, is this ethical?

There are many discussions on whether or not this is an ethical way to handle a situation where an executive member is not able to post on social media platforms for him/herself. Is it that crucial for the company to have the voice of an executive member? Or can it stay in the dark and not include them. Some may argue that it is better for a company to not include an executive member’s commentary if they don’t have the time to write it themselves. Others will argue that the company needs the opinions from execs in order to create a well-rounded social presence.

Todd Defren states some interesting facts about corporate blogs, which give us insights into what is and isn’t ethical. In more corporate-style blogs, rather than personal, it is more common for a public relations or communications team to control the blog and use ghost blogging as their fallback strategy if the executive blogger does not have time to create the posts.

Defren describes the difference between more corporate style blogs versus personal blogs that are corporate-aligned. I agree with him that ghost blogging for a personal blog is unethical, but ghost blogging for a corporate blog is ethical. Defren uses the comparison of ghost blogging for a corporate blog to writing a piece for a company newsletter. In both of these cases the executive member or whomever the post was meant to be written by would approve the piece. This is ethical because no posts would go out on the social platforms before being approved by the person whose voice the team is impersonating.

Ghost blogging is becoming a growing trend in public relations, and people will need to accept it just as they have accepted ghost tweeting. There will always be people who disagree with this tactic and will think it is unethical. The public relations agency is always very knowledgeable about their client, and can often form thoughts for their client’s executive members before the members think of it themselves. This tactic is extremely beneficial during a crisis when the public relations team for a company knows about the crisis before the executive members. This will allow the public relations professionals to react to this crisis immediately if necessary, without having to wait on the exec members. There are many instances where ghost blogging is beneficial to a company, but it is up to you to decide whether the situation is ethical or not.

 

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This Article Has 6 Comments
  1. Jerome Pizzelli says:

    Answering your overall question I would say there is nothing wrong with ghost blogging. Many companies specifically CEOs don’t have time to make a personal letter to the people that are already investing in the company. Many people that do ghost blog are paid by the company to communicate with the public. This means, in my opinion, all communication. That includes any “personal” letters written by the CEO demonstrating that he cares about the public. In my opinion, however it comes to down to many people in the common public don’t know what ghost blogging is and that the CEO may not have written the letter they just received in the mail or just read.

  2. Aubree Tolley says:

    Great Post! I don’t mind ghost blogging that much. I feel as though many big CEOs and people who would hire someone to write for them are too busy to sit down and write blog posts. These people still want to communicate with their audiences and they can get their core values and beliefs out even if they didn’t type every word. I don’t think people expect a blog to be as personal and authentic as maybe social media. I find myself not following a celebrity as much when I learn that all their fun, witty tweets are a hired social media team…that kind of defeats the point of social media to me!

  3. Rachel Hanks says:

    I think ghost blogging is ethical and okay. If a PR practitioner is able to convey the core message of a brand in a more succinct manner than perhaps a CEO could, that practitioner should by all means blog on behalf of the CEO. I think PR professionals should clear content addressed in the blog with the CEO, especially if the blog will be in response to or in the wake of a crisis. If there’s a chance a CEO could be asked in a press conference or an interview about a blog “written” by him or her, they should be knowledgable about what was written in that blog post.

  4. Jesse Walker says:

    I think the real question is if ghost blogging is authentic. I think the modern consumer can easily spot authenticity errors and ghost blogging can be a bad source of those.

  5. Kenden Blake says:

    I agree with your point that consumers will generally need to accept ghost blogging, whether they believe its ethical or not, since it is becoming such a common practice. However, to echo Jesse’s point, it opens up an opportunity for brands who can put out consistent, authentic messaging.

  6. Ali O'Shaughnessy says:

    Good post. I think it’s important to think about the objective of the blog. Is it to get to know a particular person better? Make the company seem more human? Then best not to guest blog. Is it a company blog with tips and tricks for clients? Ghost blogging doesn’t seem so unethical.

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