Ghostwriting has been a staple of business and academia for ages, and it’s something most people seem to have grown comfortable with. True, it is a bit distasteful to think that a high-profile executive or professor received a byline for something authored by his/her assistant, but then we think: They spent many years ghostwriting for others, and then many years on top of that writing their own thought-leadership pieces, so they’ve put in their time. Or something like that.
Then blogs made their grand debut, and senior professionals hesitantly began dipping their toes into the conversation cesspool. With some notable exceptions, though, these executives were blogging vicariously through their communications staff, which was actually responsible for drafting and, after a quick once-over from the “author,” posting the missive. At first, we the people were dismayed, as this behavior flew in the face of all that blogging represents: transparency, authenticity, openness, etc.
But then many of us were reminded of the time constraints placed on these senior executives, not to mention the red tape created by legal departments and similar types of bureaucracy. So came another divide: On one hand, we admonish the act of ghost-blogging, while on the other, we agree to look the other way and, in some cases, even participate in it ourselves. Right or wrong, the point is moot: It’s a reality.
Now, though, we have Twitter, the micro-platform that packs a big communications punch. Of course, many executives now participate in the tweet-o-sphere, be it out of enjoyment, pressure or the fear of being left out. Even big-time celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore tweet, and—at least most people are inclined to believe—they do it without the help of any assistance. But is the same true for senior executives?
I’m willing to venture an educated guess that, while there may be some C-suite professionals tweeting on their own, there are just as many who rely on ghost-tweeters to maintain their Twitter presence for them. This is the point at which I can no longer suspend disbelief. Honestly, is 140 characters really too much to expect to come straight from the horse’s mouth? Or am I—someone who is pro-ghostwriting and grudgingly accepting of ghost-blogging—being a hypocrite?
By Courtney Barnes