Take it from us – ghost writers are often the true authors of many companies’ blogs and social media pages, and not the business owners themselves. But is it fair that so much content is masquerading as a personal message from the company, or should ghost writing be looked upon as something akin to fraud?
When it comes to celebrities hiring PR agencies to manage their social media avatars, are they exploiting their adoring fans, or providing a valuable forum in which their followers can express their feelings? Well as you might expect we are a little bias, since our business is to give those business owners a voice, but in the interests of impartiality let’s lay out the pros and cons so you can decide for yourself.
Ghost Writing is Fraud
The obvious issue with ghost writing is that the individual claiming authorship may never even have seen the content they’ve put their name to, and therefore people may feel as though they’ve been misled. However, much deeper issues can arise from mishandled ghost writing, which can result in a lot more than hurt feelings.
A clear illustration of how ghost writing can go so very wrong is Danny Dyer's mishap in Nuts magazine some years ago. In his agony uncle column it was suggested that a 23 year old guy, trying to get over a broken heart, cut his ex's face so that 'no one else will want her'. Dyer later assured readers that he was misquoted by a ghost writer and the publisher, Baur Media, apologised 'unreservedly' for the 'editorial error'.
The 'Dyer Debacle' seems to be the result of some huge miscommunication between Dyer and a ghost writer at the magazine (and a massive editorial oversight) but then with whom does the responsibility lie? This is an extreme example of what can happen when the true writer is not who they claim, but then ghost writing opens the door to many other such errors. For example, if a company employed a ghost writer, this writer could make a false claim about a product or service that leads a customer to make a sale they wouldn’t ordinarily have made.
The flip-side to this anonymity and seeming lack of responsibility is that ghost writers do not receive any credit for what they write. This can mean that writers are sometimes paid relatively little to produce something that makes millions, or could simply result in a lack of credit. Whether it’s financial reward or acclaim that fails to materialise, ghost writers miss out. Is this fair, or should they be happy enough to be in work?
Ghost Writing is Valuable
Ghost writing can be seen as fundamental to both the business and literary world. It offers people a professional voice that otherwise they may not be able to achieve. There are a huge number of celebrities who use ghost writers for their autobiographies or newspaper columns. Their names attract readers, where ordinarily their writing skills wouldn’t be proficient enough to appear in print. It may be slightly misleading to put a book forward as their own voice, but if they are providing the narrative does it really matter who pens it?
It is a similar situation in business. Many business owners will be very busy running the practical aspects of the company, too busy to regularly write blog entries, post on social media sites or construct their web content. By outsourcing their writing tasks to a professional copywriter they free up their time to concentrate on sales and performance. It is not a massive leap to see that ghost writers provide efficiency and professionalism to the production of written content, allowing the owner to provide a better service to their clients.
On balance it seems that a good ghost writer, who is willing to work with little recognition, will provide a useful service to both businesses and individuals alike. They have experience writing for a wide audience, possess excellent grammar skills, and provide a voice for all the things you want to say but are not sure how. Just a bit of advice to anyone who employs a ghost writer – remember to read what is written before attaching your name to it...