On the creative side of fullCIRCLE creative + coaching, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time writing for other people – otherwise known as ghost writing. Technically speaking, ghost writers are people who get paid to write but receive none of the credit for the work produced. While it may seem odd, it’s a common practice that enables your company to get high quality content that reads professionally. It’s a fascinating solution and one I’d like to share more about.
Say you’re the leader of a mid-sized company and you have news to share with the rest of your team. You decide to have an off-site event where people can kick back, relax, eat and visit with one another in a setting far from the pressures of deadlines and the daily nuances of work. You recognize the importance of preparing for the presentation, yet you don’t want give a speech. You’d prefer to talk from the heart with intention and would appreciate some guidance on the messages you should convey.
Fortunately, you outsource your marketing communication efforts to an independent contractor.
The news you’re announcing has been shared with her, she understands what’s at stake and can provide guidance about noteworthy information without trying to tell you what to say. Asking the consultant to create talking points to guide you during the presentation is one example of ghost writing. Your company pays her for her time to understand the need, brainstorm ideas and develop the talking points but gets none of the credit for what’s written or said.
That seems like a win-win for both sides:
The company leader gets guidance on presentation content; the consultant gets paid for the time it takes her to understand the opportunity and brainstorm to create talking points. It’s that simple.
Let’s look at another example. The CEO of a large company is frequently asked to provide articles and other content-driven documents focused on a particular dynamic - the state’s growing Hispanic population. As a female Hispanic leader, it’s very important to her to educate others about more effectively working with this population. It would feel unsettling not to fulfill such requests but she realizes that doing so distracts her from her core focus.
In order to continue positioning herself as a community resource for businesses interested in learning more about the Hispanic population she must seize educational opportunities. One avenue to capitalize upon is creating content for various publications. But how can she do this while also honoring her responsibilities as CEO?
She hires a ghost writer to create content with her name in the byline. She reviews drafts of what’s written, works closely with the writer to edit and refine the information and signs off once it meets her approval. She’s in the driver’s seat without detracting from other responsibilities.
Are you or anyone you know in similar situations? Follow these steps to find a ghost writer who can collaborate with you to develop inspiring content:
Specify content needs.
Ghost writers create information for a variety of platforms from newspaper opinion editorials to public speaking presentations to social media posts. Being clear about your needs will help you find someone with the appropriate skill set.
Identify the timeframe of your need.
Do you need someone to write a speech our presentation outline for a particular event? Do you need a few months’ worth of social media posts surrounding a big announcement? Whatever the need, be sure to provide insight so writers can gauge availability.
Talk with employees, colleagues and professional organizations.
Word of mouth remains one of the best ways to foster connections with people. Ask employees and colleagues to introduce you those with skills you need. Remember to reach out to professional organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) or the American Marketing Association (AMA). Consider attending one of their monthly meetings so you can meet writers face-to-face.
Once you’ve specified needs, identified timeframes and connected with writers, consider offering candidates a test project to gain insight into their particular writing style. Request writing samples to better understand their strengths and remember to inquire about their hourly rate (which can vary by market).