Ghost Blogging As If It Were Alec Baldwin

This post was written by John White on Tue, 16 Mar 2010 20:19:18 +0000
Posted Under: blog,personality,value in content

Alec BaldwinGhost blogging backs up a recognized person with professional writing experience. Marketing communications writers may also need to tune the person’s voice. Is it blogging?

“By the way,” the vice president of product development told me. “I want the posts to have a certain personality. They should sound as if Alec Baldwin wrote them.”

Alec Baldwin? Which Alec Baldwin? Alec Baldwin in “It’s Complicated,” or in “30 Rock,” or in “The Departed,” or in “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends?”

“More or less like ’30 Rock,'” he continued. “Don’t be afraid to use a little bit of irony, a bit of dry humor in the posts.”

Ghost blogging – Pros and Cons

As the term suggests, ghost blogging is like ghostwriting, except for a blog. The rich and famous are well known for hiring ghostwriters to pen their autobiographies, sometimes for partial credit, sometimes for no credit, as in Theodore Sorenson’s work for John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage. (Even Mozart is said to have ghostwritten music for wealthy patrons.)

The vice president in question is keen to build a stream of content and comments around a newly launched product. Someday, a collaborative approach to this blog may arise, with experts on his team contributing alternating posts. Meanwhile, he wants to get the ball rolling, and marketing communications writers doing ghost blogging will work for the time being.

It’s easy to find opposing views on ghost blogging. Proponents believe that it allows impossibly busy people to provide content to a waiting audience, and opponents consider it a treacherous breach of Web 2.0 trust.

But hey, we all know that Barack Obama has people who write his speeches. And, when it boils down to the choice between ghost blogging valuable content and imprisoning it in the head of somebody with no time to write it down, isn’t the Web better served by the former?

“Bring me the voice of Alec Baldwin”

So with that ethical speed bump behind us, we turn to the issue of voice.

The vice president of product development does not look like Alec Baldwin, let alone sound like him. If we study enough video on YouTube, we can come up with a way of drizzling his brand of on-screen wit and personality over the  business and technical problems that underpin the blog. I’m not worried about that, because it’s just another dimension of persuasion, which is the heart and soul of the Web.

However, even if we can assemble valuable content and season it with the actor’s tone, isn’t the result a Web-based double chicane? Is it bogus? Will the blog get flamed? Will digg and reddit pan it? Regardless of our desire to pump out valuable content, vox populi, vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God), and we shall have to live with the consequences.

Frankly, however it pans out, it’s a pretty interesting project. Potentially inflammatory, but interesting nonetheless.

Back to the vice president of product development: “One more thing: Not the voice of Alec Baldwin in his blog. I can’t stand the guy’s writing.”

How would you handle this?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it.

photo credit: David Shankbone (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

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