The ultimate guide to excel in ghostwriting
What does the book “The Count of Monte Cristo,” by Alexandre Dumas, the Oscar-winning song “Glory,” by John Legend, and the speech “I Have a Dream,” given by Martin Luther King Jr., have in common? Well, surprisingly enough, they have all been produced not by the authors we associate them to, but by ghostwriters.
The word says it all: you might read ’em, but you don’t see ‘em! A ghostwriter is someone who writes literary and journalistic works, speeches, memoirs, even official correspondence, that is credited to another person as the author. In the public affairs business, ghostwriting is a common practice once storytelling is one of the skills professionals must master.
It’s easy to see that much of today’s content is created without a need for a named “author.” Social media posts on corporate or brand accounts, website copy, newsletters, and others, are assumed to be created by a company or brand. But some specific content, like blog posts and bylined articles or opinion pieces, that contribute to industry and business media, gain strength and influence when it comes from a voice of authority — such as a company’s top executive, product developer, lead researcher, or guru.
These are exactly the sort of spokespersons who typically don’t have the time to write the content a public relations or marketing strategy requires to increase brand awareness. So, how does one assume their “role” and approach a topic from their point of view?
One: learn from the experts
Ghostwriters may be the ones putting words onto paper (or screen), but the ideas they are writing about are not simply their own, so the first step in any such project should be some time between the writer and the executive. This initial sharing of information can occur in many ways, but the goal is to get a feel for the spokesperson’s personality and manner, phrases they use, and the way they approach the topic of the article. If the “author” provides a list of bullet points or information, great — start from there and bring it together.
Two: share something relevant
Having useful information or insights to share is another important aspect to determine when creating content that will have a company leader’s name attached. When writing a bylined article or a personal blog post for a CEO or other top executive, there is definitely no room for a jumble of jargon. You should, instead, share original research, interpretations of industry trends, seasoned advice on achieving success in an industry, or other insights that make a difference for readers.
Three: keep it authentic
When you ghostwrite you have to abandon your go-to isms and idioms. By ensuring that the style of writing matches the personality of the author — whether they are formal or informal, storytellers or fact-focused -, increases the authenticity of the piece. Good writers confirm that the resulting articles not only meet quality content criteria but also fit the brand and the voice of the named author. Therefore, ghostwriting is not usually dropped on the nearest person with a keyboard, but executed by experienced content producers, who establish the author’s intention for the piece and preview the upcoming result.
Four: review and approve — always
Because the executive’s name is the one that will be published alongside the article, they should always review, provide additional input and approve the blog post or bylined piece before it is published. This final review is essential to ensure the information, position, and voice presented are a true reflection of the person named as the author.
Aside from its specifics, ghostwriting is genuinely a fantastic way to learn and explore new topics, as well as to get to know different points of view. For public relations specialists, it’s always very interesting to being invited into someone else’s brain, hear their insights firsthand, and help them decide how the story should unfold.