CEOs and Their Ghostwriters
Hi there. My name is Michael Brown, I’m the CEO of nDash, and I may or may not have actually written this post myself. It may have been ghostwritten by someone else.
wants needs to be seen as a thought leader in their respective field, and publishing content is the best way to do that. Why don’t more of them publish, you ask? A chronic lack of time. The ability to sit down and write a 1,000-word blog post is one luxury most successful CEOs cannot afford, at least not without a huge opportunity cost.
“The acquisition will have to wait. I’m editing my conclusion.”
But if you stop to think about it, other mediums that might seem quicker (e.g. speaking engagements, podcasts, or the dreaded walk-along video) are actually more time-consuming in the long run. Why? Because they cannot be handed off, even with a stunt double or doppelganger. The CEO must be present for all of it — start to finish. Conversely, written content can be delegated with great efficiency, but only if you’ve got the right ghostwriter.
Much has been written how to find and work with ghostwriters effectively (see below). In this post, however, I want to focus on two ancillary topics:
#1. Why the CEO-ghostwriter relationship might be the most important relationship within a company
#2. Why CEO should always be an integral part of your brand’s content community
The CEO-Ghostwriter Relationship
What sets a brand apart from the competition? It’s not a fancy website or office. It’s not revenue or share price. It’s vision and storytelling. And whether they like it or not, it’s the CEO’s job to set the vision for the company. In this way, the CEO is a huge factor in how a brand is perceived. Try to think of a great company who’s CEO isn’t held in high regard. There might be a few, but they won’t be CEO for long if that’s the case.
A brand cannot be truly authentic without these views expressed. The story must be told, and it must be told at scale. The CEO’s vision should set the tone for all marketing materials that will follow.
Unfortunately, the CEO cannot be a full-time content creator. They have too much shit to do. This is where the ghostwriter comes into play.
This is a person who must be able to extract this story from the CEO through interviews and research, without wasting their time. They must adapt to the CEO’s voice and maintain consistency with every published piece. They must absorb the story to point where they can recite themselves and uncover new angles to keep it fresh. This is not an easy job, nor is it an insignificant one.
If the ghostwriter makes an error in judgement, or produces lackluster content, then a CEO’s credibility goes out the window, along with a brand’s reputation. With this instance in mind, one could argue that it’s the most important relationship within a company. There needs to be real rapport, and this can only be established through semi-regular meetings to brainstorm topics, conduct interviews, review drafts and so forth.
Sadly, the cleaning crew and PeaPod delivery people often get more attention from the CEO than a ghostwriter does. In many cases, the task of ghostwriting for the CEO falls on a different person every time, none of whom are exactly dying for the responsibility. This can include the CMO, in-house marketers, PR agencies and the like. Oddly enough, the ghostwriter is sometimes even unknown to the CEOs themselves!
Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with multiple performing the task, but it becomes problematic without a formal strategy in place. This leads to point number two.
The CEOs Role in Content Creation
The CEO has a big role to play in content creation, the extent to which depends on the respective size of the marketing team. A good rule of thumb:
- If the marketing team is small, the CEO should more involved and have several bylines per month.
- If the marketing team is medium-sized, they should be less involved but have at least one byline per month.
- If the marketing team is huge, the CEO should be publishing books.
In each of these instances, a ghostwriter will need to be involved.
Without them, it’s pretty much impossible for a CEO to contribute content with any sort of consistency. As the team grows — i.e. as you build a content community — it’s easy for the CEO to think they can remove themselves form the content operation. It’s also easy for team to assume that the CEO no longer has time to contribute. These are big mistakes.
While they don’t have time to wordsmith, their views and insights must be conveyed. Instead, what often happens is that a CEO’s name is slapped on a random piece of content without them having given any input whatsoever. This is an even bigger mistake. Let’s all agree to never do this again.
My Two Cents
Over the last two years, I’ve talked to countless founders and CEOs. The stories they share are amazing; how they came up with the idea, how they got started, the trials and tribulations, the wins and losses, and how they view the future of their industries. I’ve learned so much from them, but unfortunately, most of this insight never sees the light of day. It’s never extracted, refined, and published as a piece of content. What a shame! If they only had an amazing ghostwriter to help them.
Shameless plug: You can use nDash to find a great ghostwriter with expertise in your specific industry or vertical.
Brought to you by the nDash AI-powered content brief:
- What You Need to Know If You’re Thinking of Hiring a Ghostwriter
- Hiring a Ghostwriter: Because Your CEO Has Big Ideas and Little Time
- Ghostwriting for a CEO: A survival guide
- Hire a Ghost Writer for CEO, Founder or General Manager
- The Brutally Honest Truth About Ghostwriting
Thanks for reading!
Michael Brown (or his ghostwriter)