Ghost Blogging in Public Relations—Ethical?

The initial idea of corporate blogging is actually quite innovative. Major companies and corporations that, up until now, have been considered cold, iron giants are now able to come back down to Earth and meet with its citizens. Blogging essentially offers readers a stress-free environment in which to converse with influential leaders that would have otherwise been impossible. In his blog post on corporate blogging entitled “Are You Talking to Me? Taking the BS Out of Business Blogging,” Brian Solis says, “True corporate blogging represents a tremendous opportunity for B2B and B2C  looking for a voice; searching for a way to communicate with customers; desiring an untraditional platform for conversations; unmasking predispositions and helping to mold perceptions.”

Given what Solis said, I’ll go back to my original point; corporate blogging was not built on pure evil and unethical values, but transparency. In fact, I am sure that there are exceptions. Although, that said, the majority of big name companies in the United States partake in unethical corporate communication: ghost blogging.

Ghost blogging is a phenomenon that occurs when the person supposedly writing the blog (e.g the president, vice-president, company relations manager, etc.) begins to feel the stress of juggling the daily-upkeep of a blog (their last priority) and maintaining business as usual (their first priority). In Dave Fleet’s post, “Why Ghost Blogging is Wrong,” he offers some reasons as to why someone would consider hiring a ghost blogger: “1.) She “hates” writing, so outsources that which she hates; 2.) As her business grows, she needs to free-up time for other tasks; 3.) Writing blog posts isn’t a part of the relationship-building process – that comes from replying to the comments.”

human hands typing on the laptop

Almost all companies are beginning to encounter the problem of ghost blogging—whether to utilize it and whether they consider it to be ethical. The mistake that many of the “bloggers” make, is that they assume they will not be caught if they partake in ghost blogging. Wrong. With technology, and our relentless usage of social media, it is only a matter of time before something unethical surfaces and goes viral. Not only will this look bad for the blogger, but it will look bad for the company as well. Ghost blogging can leave a company flickering in an unethical light, and be detrimental for future business.

In my opinion, its best to avoid sneaking around to your audiences—and people take blogging really seriously. Readers become emotionally invested in these blogs and they truly believe that the president of a major company in behind the computer screen, typing and joking and connecting with them. Breaking that trust can lead to damaged relationships with consumers, which in turn, can ruin relationships from potential consumers of the company.

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