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Friday, January 06, 2006

Ghost in the machine

So, 83 per cent of corporate blogs are ghost-written? (via Mike Bawden's 'Much Ado' post.) Wow. That sucks.

I'm wondering, however, what constitutes being 'written by someone else'. There's a fine line here. A few fine lines even. Ones that could rock the result.

This calls for a sliding scale. A cloggerblog first!


1. Owned

This jolly worker always fancied himself as a Hunter S Thompson-style character, ever since that mescal-fuelled road-trip from LA to Las Vegas for COMDEX back in the summer of '98. He cogitates, conceptualises, creates and publishes (damn, couldn't think of a suitable c-word) his blog in its entirety. There's no interaction from bosses or marketing dweebs or subeditors or stakeholders or any other uncool fool for this thought-leading pioneer. You go, girl.

2. Dictated

This hot young go-getter is far too busy and important to write his own blog. But that doesn't mean he doesn't understand that blogging, tagging wiki-ing and all those other trendy social publishing phenomena aren't crucial to the continuing success of his business. Hell no. No siree. That's why he dictates his thoughts to a member of staff who is more at home operating in the blogosphere. I mean, who can use a computer.

3. Consulted

He may care about the blog, but that shouldn't mean he should devote time to the blog. It doesn't even mean he really knows what the hell should go on the blog. But one thing's for sure - this guy knows his onions. And his potatoes. And his apples. So, he decides to stay involved, but in the most efficient way he knows how - by hiring someone to do it for him. But do not fear. These are his ideas. Weekly calls or meetings with the writer see pearls cast before swine. But man, can this pig blog. The result is a fine mix of form and content, fixed in eternal - and beautiful - ballet.

4. Approved

This exec doesn't blog. He doesn't get blogs. He doesn't like blogs, and may even think they're a threat to corporate branding, positioning and confidentiality. But he knows how important they are. So he too has hired a blogger to do the blogging for him. But instead of weekly inspirational meetings where concepts are bandied about like ethereal currency, this busy bee doesn't really give a toss about the topic of the posts. He's just happy to leave it to the hired help, check it for messaging, run it by corporate and give it the green light. Well, it's a just another marketing tool, right? Just like that time we hired those models in the tight t-shirts or advertised on the side of dogs.

5. Ghosted

The blog that the ghost-written CEO 'writes', the CEO may have never seen. Six months ago, he had a meeting sandwiched between lunch with the editor of the FT and a challenging round of golf that layed down what he wanted to do, say and avoid on the blog. Since then, he has had no contact with blog or ghost writer. A marketeer from the imagineering department casually glances across the posts before they go up to check that the right keywords have been used - 'end-to-end solution', thought-leading pioneer', 'techno-innovative' - and that the branding is intact. After all, it would be dreadful if the ghost forgot to use a lower case letter at the start of the company name, especially at the beginning of a sentence. That would be corporate suicide!


So, the fine lines are in there somewhere. Can a blog that's anything than number one be truly self-written? If not, then I reckon that the results of the survey are skewed.

But if we're can feasibly count numbers one, two and three as self-written, which is easily arguable, then the numbers stack up much differently.

Where can the lines be drawn? What constitutes a self-written blog? Which are you? You decide.



Blogger SB said...

Like the sliding scale...

CEO blogs ideally should be self-written, but let's be real. Most CEO and celebrity autobiographies aren't self-written. Nor are press release quotes, annual report letters, etc. etc. Anyone who thinks it will be different in blogland needs to wake up and smell the starbucks.

Personally, I'm satisfied with a corporate blog if the CEO is at least substantially involved in the blog's direction -- and then reads the finished product and reacts to it. Getting the CEO engaged is more important than whether he writes every entry.

8:49 pm  
Blogger Kami Huyse, APR said...

As Scott says, I prefer the authentic voice. I like your scale that slides into oblivion.

But I too am a realist.

Case in point: When I lived in DC, I remember the first time I saw all of those presidential quotes and thought, "Wow, great speechwriter!" It really was dissolutioning.

5:44 am  

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