We live in a world where we expect people to write speeches for others. Our teachers tell us it could be part of our daily job description. Writing for the vice president or president of a company is not considered unethical. It is part of our normal communications lives.
If ghostwriting for speeches, company letters, memos and other corporate pieces on behalf of our bosses is okay, is it okay to blog on their behalf as well? What about if your boss asks you to respond to tweets in his or her Twitter account?
To be completely transparent, it does not seem honest to blog or tweet on behalf of another person. Social media is much more personal than bigger more corporate forms of communication like a speech or mass e-mail. Blogs and tweets are personal forms of communication where a follower should be able to trust the authenticity of the person writing the messages.
Social media is a personal way for people to connect to others. Should a person of high interest be honest when publishing blogs that are not personal? I say yes. One of the great purposes of social media from a public relations stand point is the ability to engage the readers. If the person blogging is a ghost writer, how can the company truly engage its audiences and how can its audiences trust their responses are heard?
It is a topic of much debate. Many celebrities, company executives and even the President admit to using ghost writers on blogs and Twitter to engage their interested audiences. Though it is convenient, is it honest? Is it fair to the readers if the ghost writer is not identified?
Social media is a new forum, and there are not strict ethical guidelines for us to follow. But as public relations practitioners, it is our obligation to be honest and transparent. Allowing someone else to write thoughts on a personal level seems deceiving and unfair to the audience who is expecting to engage in more personal conversations with the name on the account.
by Rachel Davis