A few weeks ago at dinner with my parents, we were talking about letters to the editor and opinion pieces that appear in newspapers, blogs, etc. I commented that we often write these for our clients. They were surprised to learn that these may not always be written by the person whose name appears on the piece. And here, I thought my folks had finally figured out what I do for a living.
So I did a little digging and found this blog post from the Public Relations Society of America. As public relations professionals, we spend a tremendous amount of our workday in front of the keyboard. This includes writing news releases, drafting talking points, speeches for key executives, memos to employees, etc. And more often than not, these communications pieces are written on behalf of someone else – a key executive at an organization, the president of the board, the HR director and so on.
Not all executives are good writers. Sure, they have other skills that are important to running their business or organization but their focus isn’t often on good sentence structure and motivational key messaging. That’s why they bring in PR professionals whose job it is to communicate ideas, plans and priorities.
The author of the PRSA piece offers the following four tips to being successful as a ghostwriter.
Getting to know your key leadership, their views on the company and its culture are critical to your success as a writer for that organization. Our job is to take their thoughts and capture them in such a way that demonstrates thought-leadership.
Equally as important is capturing that executive’s personality as well. Remember, no matter how good you make them look on paper, they are going to have face-to-face communication as well. You don’t want one voice in their written materials and the complete opposite when they are live and in-person.
So the next time you see a corporate executive’s byline in a publication, feel confident that these are their thoughts and their views, they just had a little help from their PR pro getting them down on paper.