What Gets A Ghost Blogger Going In The Morning

Ghost writers have been used by celebrities and public figures for hundreds of years now.  What you find today is that, in some cases, a book ghostwriter’s name is actually listed. The name might be labeled “a contributor”, or “as told to”, or even as “research assistant”.  Most of the time, though, the ghost writer’s role is concealed.  This is interesting, since human resource specialists and workplace psychologists seem to agree that employees crave recognition and appreciation as much as, or even more than, a paycheck.  My goodness, what happens to the praise-starved psyches of us poor ghost bloggers, who, along with Rodney Dangerfield, “get no respect”?

Since I spent many, many years writing under my own byline (see www.rhodaisraelov.com), I can tell you, it’s a little bit different fading into the shadows, allowing my clients’ businesses to take all the glory.   So why is it, then, that I find ghost blogging so satisfying?  To explain, I need to share with you an anecdote I read in the book “White House Ghosts”.  Dick Goodwin, who wrote speeches for Kennedy and Johnson, expressed it perfectly.  Here’s what he said:  “Naturally, writing this or any other speech would not make me a world-historic figure.  But, it was a chance to help make history.” 

Think about that for a moment – Goodwin got a kick out of being part of something important, whether he got credit for it or not.  Corny as it might sound, I feel exactly the same way about my work as a ghost blogger.  Each business client has an important message to spread. (If I can’t believe in that message, I won’t take on the assignment, because it won’t work.) My clients and I – we may not be making history together, but, by golly, with great blogging, we can sure make business!


Ask Not What Your Business Blog Can Do For You

We ghost bloggers are fairly new to the business scene, but, as I’ve mentioned in earlier “Say It For You” pieces, ghostwriting has a very, very long history.  U.S. presidential speechwriters are one of the better-known examples, starting with the story I told about George Washington using Jefferson and Hamilton to craft his speeches.  I learned recently that Calvin Coolidge was the first president to hire an official, full time speechwriter.  Since then, of course, every president has had an Office of Speechwriting.  There’s even an interesting book called White House Ghosts, written by Washington reporter Robert Schlesinger, on the topic of presidential speechwriters.

I can find quite a number of interesting parallels here.  All of us remember famous lines from presidential speeches.  How about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall!” and, perhaps best-known, Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country”?  Ghost writers had a hand in creating all of these speeches. So, does that mean U.S. presidents have no influence on the speeches they deliver? Far from it!  Michael Gerson, talking about one of the speeches he and his team wrote for Bush, said “Our concern is not to write a good speech, but to write a good speech that is also his speech.” Richard Goodwin, speechwriter for LBJ, said his job was to “illuminate the president’s inward beliefs”.

I’ve said this before:  Your ghost blogger needs to pick up on your unique corporate style in order to speak your message in your voice to your customers. Your blog helps drive business to your website.  When your customers arrive, they find – YOU!  Now you have a chance to shine.  No longer is it a matter of what your blog did for you – it’s what can you do for your new customers! Meanwhile, behind the scenes, your ghost blogger will be basking in unseen and unheard glory, having Said It For You.


Won’t You Please Come Into My Blog

As a business owner, you’re always looking for ways to introduce what you have to offer to new customers of the right kind (the kind that have a need for and who will appreciate your services and products).  That’s exactly what having a corporate blog is designed to do.  Through the search engine optimization process, potential customers searching online for your type of product or service get to your blog. Then, when they read the very relevant information you’ve provided there, these buyers go to your website, and decide to do business with your company.  Your blog is one important way of inviting customers in to take a look.
Since marketing plays such an important role in my work as a ghost blogger, I’m always on the lookout for information on that subject.  A couple of weeks ago, I attended a mini-seminar about trade show marketing, given by marketing programs specialist Kathleen Haley. The presentation was called “Making Event Participation Work For Your Business.”  I was amazed how much of what Haley shared about effective use of a trade show booth can be directly applied to using a business blog effectively.  I’m going to talk about just one of those marketing ideas today, but I’ll come back to some other ideas I learned in future “Say It For You” blogs.
Don’t sit behind a table. The table becomes a barrier, Haley pointed out.  Make it easy and inviting for customers to come inside your booth, away from the flow of trade show traffic.  Inside, you can talk to them, find out their needs, and share ideas with them.
You want your blog to function like a great trade show booth.  Customers are looking for some information or perhaps for a provider of a service or product that relates to your business.  That’s why they’re at the “trade show” (meaning online on a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN).  So, the customers arrive at your blog “booth”, where they read or see something that draws their interest and appears as if it might fit their needs. (That, of course, is where having lots of appealing, fresh content in your blog is so important). 
Right there is the crucial moment in the process – the customer needs to come inside the booth (meaning click on to your website). Once you have customers inside your website, you get the chance to find out more about them and help them find out more about you.  That just doesn’t happen outside the booth; it happens only when the client gets inside the website.  The key to inviting them in is your blog. In a very real sense, this analogy of the booth sums up my work as a ghost blogger.  I help you say to your customers, “Won’t you please come on in?”


From Meat to Mustard

A professional writer myself, I derive special pleasure out of a nicely turned phrase, a “word tidbit”, if you will.  And, while driving to an appointment with one of my clients the other day, I caught a really nice word tidbit on the radio.  The station was offering a New York Times news story about rising food prices. Now, inflation is a really serious subject, and I’m as concerned as the next person about spending more and more hard earned dollars at the grocery store. So, I didn’t like hearing news about food costing more and more. But I did like the way in which the reporter delivered that news.   Shoppers are going, he announced, “from meat to mustard”.  Wow! Four small words, and what a punch those words packed!  As much as I enjoy mustard on my meat, the image his words produced of my needing to eat mustard in place of meat really drove home the message about food prices.
The rest of the ride, I reflected how big a difference skillful use of language can make in every aspect of life.  In particular, since I was on my way to see a business owner, I thought about how, sometimes, in doing business, we get so tied up in manufacturing a good, marketable product, and in serving our customers’ needs, that we forget how much help the right words can be. In fact, when it comes to web-based communication, words, along with pictures, are a business’ only tools.
And that – that’s what a ghost blogger does for a living – works with words, turns phrases, tries to find words with the Wow Factor to “Say It For You”!  


Ghost Blogging Gets The Girl

As I explained in my last “Say It For You” blog, I’m part of a small, elite group of specialty writers for hire as part of a business’ marketing plan. The goal – “win the search” by moving the client’s business listing higher on Google (or Yahoo or MSN).

While reasons for using ghostwriters include lack of time and lack of discipline, many celebrities and public figures throughout history used ghost writers because, despite having subject knowledge and valuable opinions to tell the world, they themselves weren’t confident in their own writing abilities. We find a famous fictional example of this in Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac, in which Christian woos Roxanne with love letters ghostwritten by Cyrano.  It’s a classic ghostwriting scenario – Christian’s got the looks, the cash, and the lineage, to win the hand of Roxanne.  But Christian’s tongue-tied – he can’t write to save his soul!  His friend Cyrano, cursed with an outrageously long nose, but blessed with amazing talent as a wordsmith, composes the love letters, up to and including the marriage proposal clincher.

The end of the plot is bittersweet, with Christian riding off into the sunset with the beautiful Roxanne, leaving poor Cyrano, far abler with both  words and swords,  single and very much “Home Alone”.

Ghostwriting isn’t typically aimed at getting the girl, but modern ghost blogging can help “Say It For You”, win the search, and get the business!