Athletes should avoid ghost blogging when possible

Twitter and blogging have become an essential part of the marketing strategies for many of today's prominent athletes. With the rising popularity and apparent 'hipness' of blogging, one has to wonder how much of the content is actually produced by the athletes and how much is ghost written by their PR team and more an attempt at marketing than connecting with fans.

When it comes to ghostwriting, I have to side with Neville Hobson, who is Head of Social Media Europe for WeissComm Group. His take:

There’s nothing inherently wrong with ghost blogging when you disclose the fact that your blog posts are ghost-written by someone other than you, the named writer (or whoever in your company is the supposed blogger). If you really do believe in transparency, truthfulness and trust, that’s the extent of disclosure you would make – the fully Monty.

But let me further say that the very idea of someone writing your posts for you, even with disclosure, is a very bad idea and not worth doing at all. A blog is about the people you engage with through your writing getting some insight into you, the person, over time in addition to connecting with your thinking, views, opinions, etc, as expressed in your writing. So I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, client or anyone else.

 

While this post is written from a business perspective, it certainly applies to athletes as well. Do CEOs of major companies have less time than professional athletes? I wouldn't think so. In fact, athletes probably have more than enough downtime—travel, rest, etc—to spend 20 minutes a couple times a week penning a blog post.

I do acknowledge that you can't simply hand an athlete a blog or some credentials to log in and expect them to take care of the rest on your own. In my mind, as sports fan, it's perfectly acceptable to have some posts on the blog written by marketing personnel, but it should be indicated as such. Also, it's fine to have the posts proofread by someone else. The marketing team could even go so far as to providing prompts for the athlete as long as the essence of why the athlete is doing a blog in the first place is still there.

Hobson describes it perfectly, it's about personally connecting with the blogs author. I should get a feel for the athlete's thought process, personality, emotions, sense of humor, preferences, everything. It can be as simple as the athlete drafting an email on the plane, no more than a couple paragraphs, then firing it off to an intern who cleans up any major issues and posts it to the site.

When this type of marketing isn't done effectively, it can have a negative impact. As a knowledgeable sports fan who can tell when something wasn't written by an athlete (especially after I follow their Twitter feed) and someone tries to tell me it is, they're insulting my intelligence as a fan.

Back to Hobson:

Bottom line – if you can’t write your own posts for whatever reason and want to have someone else do it on your behalf, then don’t do it at all: find another means to express your voice where you are the person who does that, not a proxy.

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