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Saturday, November 27, 2010

The great debate of ethics and ghostblogging

As social media becomes more advanced and new tools and websites are popping up everyday, it can be hard for companies to stay up-to-date with social media and creating a personality for all these sites. One of the most common and useful tools however, takes a bit of work: blogging. Many companies have in turn hired someone to write and update their blog for them. This begins the debate of ghostblogging, is it ethical or not? From one point of view ghost writing has become very accepted and no one questions who is behind the company news letter these days, or who sends out the annual reports, most just assume it is not coming directly from the CEO, although they most likely (hopefully) are the ones who review them before publishing. But do most people also assume the same for blogs?

Because blogging is such a new form of media the logistics of it are not always as clear as we would assume. Many customers visiting the blog may think they are actually reading from the desk of the CEO. If that’s the case great, but majority of the time its not and the public should be given this information. I feel the same way about the micro-blogging site Twitter. There is no need to make the public believe they are actually talking to a celebrity who in reality just hires someone to tweet for them, or the head of a company who actually has no clue how to use Twitter. Some argue that it is common sense (obviously Lil’ Wayne isn’t tweeting from his jail cell), but you would be surprised by the amount of people that don’t take things like this into account. Overall I think it doesn’t have to be an issue if there is someone or many people blogging for a company, but why not take off the mask and make it known to the public. As everyone is still trying to figure out the “right way” of going about social media, the idea of transparency and honesty with the public can’t hurt.

There is a surplus of articles online about this topic that go into numerous different options and situations in which ghostblogging is acceptable and when it is not. Obviously there is no right answer here but I encourage you to explore the topic further, I found very good points from both sides. One great article I found was The Ghost Speaks by Michael Janofsky, it goes into depth on the topic and talks to some of the ghostbloggers behind big names. At the end of the day I still think that as far as PR goes, social media is a way to connect with our target audiences and build relationships with them, and more and more these days online communities expect and appreciate transparency. If your company has a blog why not put the names of the people that actually wrote the posts on it? If its coming from a writer for the CEO, state that somewhere. It will go a long way.

Betsy Sandberg
University of Minnesota
Jour 3279
Blog Assignment