Halloween arrives this weekend, and with it, costumed hordes of kids will descend on our neighborhoods demanding a king’s ransom of candy before moving on to another home. Kids wear costumes to pretend to be something else, such as superheroes, vampires and ghosts, all with the goal of earning a strong candy-based ROI. In the corporate world, when it comes to writing and marketing communications, people also pretend to be someone else. They’re called ghostwriters. I should know – I’m a ghostwriter too.
Ghostwriting does not refer to a translucent, sheet-covered entity scribbling out content; rather it’s a long-standing practice of one person writing content for another. In a typical scenario, a writer authors an article or thought leadership piece on the behalf of another (client or manager). If the content is published, it will appear under the byline of the client or manager, not the ghostwriter.
For example, let’s say I write and publish a thought leadership paper on behalf of a client named Frank N. Stein, and the article is published in a leading magazine. It will appear in the publication as having been written by “Frank N. Stein”. I don’t receive direct attribution (credit) for writing the paper; my client does, hence the term “ghostwriting”.
Ghostwriting is usually associated with publishing the following types of content:
- Thought Leadership Papers
- White Papers
This content is published through both print and online media, including magazines, self-publishing books through Amazon, LinkedIn and company websites. Some companies have voracious appetites for publishing their own content on proprietary platforms, like LinkedIn company pages, corporate websites and client newsletters. For these firms, ghostwriters play a key role in delivering a regular flow of content, which allows company resources to focus on other high value tasks.
Ghostwriting can move the needle of your marketing communications ROI like an EMF meter in a haunted house. How so? Ghostwriters bring an outside, unbiased perspective to content creation, and with clear subject matter expertise. Every piece of content that a company creates and publishes is an opportunity to expand its influence. A few ghostwriting examples:
- A thought leadership paper outlining an effective approach to data management will resonate with investment firms struggling to control disparate data sources.
- An article detailing cost-basis accounting and reporting builds credibility and the company’s position as an expert in the field.
- A research paper examining complex performance attribution concepts demonstrates expertise and establishes the company as a leading voice in the industry.
- A newsletter sent to clients of an investment firm communicating performance results, investment rationale and outlook provides clients with peace of mind, transparency and accountability.
Aside from these examples, ghostwriters add value by writing case studies, crafting tag lines and slogans, creating product sheets, responding to proposals and designing pitches. Having a third-party, objective view removes organizational myopia. It also challenges the status quo and looks for ways to improve the company’s value proposition.
While Halloween is one day per year, ghostwriting occurs year round. It’s not a supernatural phenomenon for companies to fear, but a living, breathing process that adds exceptional value.
No tricks, just treats.