The Ghost and Our Integrity
The topic of ghostblogging and Tweeting is popping up everywhere. I even saw a Tweet last week touting that a VA (Virtual Assistant) can write your company's blog. OMG!
I can't believe we're even having this debate. Especially among those who claim to believe in integrity and honesty above all, who strive to create trusted relationships with our customers.
So, answer this question for me.
Do you trust someone who presents a piece of work as their own, when it's not? In some arenas we call that plagiarism, or even fraud. In school we called it cheating. Remember? You flunked if you got caught having someone else write your report or thesis.
So why do we think it's OK because it's business?
By now you can probably guess where I stand on this subject. To me, anytime your represent someone else's work as your own it's cheating - even if you did pay them to do the work.And if you're the one who did the work for hire, and you allow someone to misrepresent it - well, to me you're just as ot of integrity as they are.
I can hear my associates telling me all the reasons it's OK to ghostblog, ghostTweet etc. "CXO's use speechwriters, they need help learning to blog, it's OK if there isn't a byline, they don't have the time." BLAH BLAH, BLAH. Or there's that personal agenda, "But I need the money!" Let's take those one at a time:
- CXO's use speechwriters. Yes, they do. But they get involved in creating that speech and they deliver it themselves. The speechwriter doesn't give the speech now do they? Don't try to tell me CXO's give input on every ghost blog post - we all know better. Many of them don't even read what gets posted.
- Companies don't know how to blog. That's true. So teach them. Just don't do it for them and have them take the credit.
- There's no byline so who knows who writes it. Come on - that's splitting hairs. It's implied that a corporate or CXO blog is written by employees who are 'in the know' in that company or by the CXO themselves - with or without the byline.
- CXO's don't have the time to blog. Well, Gee - if they don't have the time to share their thoughts and ideas with their customers/audience - then what does that say about their customer commitment? And why are YOU helping them hide that fact?
- I need the money. Why do you have to sacrifice your integrity to make money? Earn the money by teaching them to blog, helping them to be independent. Did you do someone else's homework to make money as a kid? Then don't do it now. If you did do homework for hire - shame on you!
- Co-author a few posts, but make sure it's with their input and guidance for topics etc. Help them put their words and thoughts on paper - not yours!
- Help them learn how to post for themselves. Have them write drafts and critique them. That's what teachers do!
- Work with them to create an editorial calendar for their blog, just to get them started. Base it on their thoughts and perspectives about the blog topic. Then help them create the content. Just don't do it for them.
- Help them identify a blogging team that alternates posts so there's no big load on any one person.
- If you do have to ghost for a client to get them started - be honest and let the audience know you're doing it. You can be subtle and truthful by adding a byline. Sponsored by Company X. Words by author Y. Co-written with author Z. Find a way to tell the truth.
More importantly - don't sell out your audience by misrepresenting the facts.
Audiences view social media as the safe ground for truth and integrity. It's the place where they can share and obtain real information in honest and meaningful ways. The place they can learn about prospective or current partners, get a feel for their thoughts and perspectives.
They trust us to deliver just that.