Why Pairing Ghostwriters with Execs and Experts Should be a Huge Part of Your 2019 Content Strategy
“You’ll edit that to make me sound smarter, right?”
That’s the most common request I get from interview subjects. I’ve profiled actors, directors, and engineers, and I’ve ghostwritten for executives in several fields. Their worries are always the same, though none of them need to worry about sounding stupid.
My only goal as a reporter or ghostwriter is to make a person sound as intelligent, concise, and persuasive as possible. My subjects are the ones with the expertise, status, and memorable personalities. I’m just tasked with distilling their essence into 1,000 words.
Pairing a ghostwriter like me with subject matter experts at your company is much more than just a time-saver. It’s a novel way to connect with the C-suite and get them interested in content marketing. It’s also a great onboarding technique for new writers and editors. Ghostwriting is so useful that I believe it should be a part of every brand’s content strategy next year.
Content marketing, after all, is just a collection of voices, and each of those speakers hopes they can speak loudly and clearly enough that their messaging breaks through the noise. But sometimes your company leaders need a little help finding the right voice.
Here are the main reasons why add ghostwriting to your content program will help your entire company.
Experts aren’t necessarily writers
Ideally, an expert or an executive could spend a chunk of the week studying the industry and commenting on the latest news. But in reality, many of them are swamped with other tasks. And the skills that make them a good at their jobs won’t always include writing.
If you’re in charge of content marketing at a company whose leaders aren’t naturally expressive, ghostwriting lets the marketing department massage and edit how the message lands in public.
Regardless of their prose, though, you’ll get the most out of ghostwriting by treating it as a collaboration. Let the ghostwriter have a conversation with the person they’ll be writing for so both sides can shape the story. The source should have their fingerprints on the weapon, as we like to say.
You owe it to yourself to hook a skilled ghostwriter up with your executives, just as you’d connect a video producer with your in-house talent instead of asking everyone at your company to pitch in, regardless of their gifts.
Executives will care more about content
Proving the ROI of content marketing is about the bottom line, sure. But it’s also about bolstering the perception content has in your organization. If the CEO at your company believes in the power of content, she’s more likely approve your budget request for that video project and those two freelancers you want to bring on full time.
Now imagine if you proposed a new plan to your boss that included ghostwriting regular thought leadership bylines in her name that would be published by the biggest media outlets in your field. That’s exciting, right? There’s an emotional connection that the CEO can get behind. It’s hard to think of a pitch more attractive than, “I will make you look good in public and you don’t have to produce any content yourself.”
Assuming your executives are usually swamped, this initiative will give you much-needed face time to build a relationship. You can talk about what you’re working on, ask about future plans for the business, and learn how they think about the industry as a whole.
New hires will master messaging faster
If you’ve hired an editorial staff for their creative skills, they’ll have to spend time developing more marketing fluency. The new hires can study a glossary of industry terms and read archives of all your old work, but ghostwriting will speed up this process by giving every new writer and editor blip of face-time with your company’s leaders.
For example, when I started at Contently, our CEO graciously walked around Soho with me one afternoon, asking me questions about my on-boarding process and where I had worked before. It was a good conversation, but looking back, we talked a bit more about me than we did about him or the company. On the other hand, when I sit with another one of our executives to work out an op-ed in their name, I find myself soaking up new information like a sponge. Because I’m interviewing each person, there’s no pressure to small talk, and I end up walking out with a metric ton of insights about the company, the industry, and my executive subject’s hottest takes.
Writers who have just joined your staff need a significant swath of ramp-up time before they’re able to proactively add to your company culture, and in order to increase their brand familiarity, they need to be included in creative conversations. Who better to learn from than the team members who make the big decisions?
Experts have more impact in market
This benefit is simple. No matter how much skill your editorial team has when it comes to running websites and social campaigns, nothing hits like a great story from someone with recognition. That can come from a name or even a title (especially if it starts with a C).
Readers assume a certain amount of expertise and experience when they read arguments from thought leaders who actually lead something, whether that’s a brand or a division of a large company. It’s just the nature of the game. Your brand messaging should find its roots in your leaders’ values, and the stories they bring to the table can be edited and massaged into extremely valuable content.