How To Hire A Corporate Ghostwriter
What do Donald Trump, John F. Kennedy, George Lucas, and Cardi B. have in common?
They all used ghostwriters.
And, in the cases of at least two of the above, their ghostwriters were hugely responsible for developing their personal brand. And that was in the pre-digital age.
In this post, we’re looking at the benefits of a practice that has become even more influential in modern times: hiring a ghostwriter for personal branding.
Establishing a strong personal brand
What is personal branding?
But first, just what is a personal brand?
Simply put, it’s the way you present to the world. Your values, your qualities, and your unique combination of skills and experience are all part of your personal brand.
What do we think of when we think of Richard Branson? An entrepreneur, an adventurer, an iconoclast—these are a few of the qualities that constitute his personal brand. Branson has crafted his highly effective personal brand by emphasizing some qualities over others through a judicious combination of paid, owned, and earned media.
The importance of personal branding
Curating the way in which we present to the world has become a part of daily life. Companies and individuals spend time and money burnishing their profiles, knowing that a strong personal brand is necessary in a competitive marketplace. Attention spans are short, and a personal brand offers a quick snapshot of who you are and what you stand for in today’s shortened time economy.
Careful and smart curation of personal branding can lead to more and better opportunities in business, in networking, and in other areas of life. Personal branding can establish you as a trustworthy expert in your field, and as a thought-leader with their fingers on the pulse of their industry.
Challenges of establishing a strong personal brand
However, obstacles abound in establishing a strong personal brand. For one thing, it takes time—time that, for today’s busy executives, could be spent on core competencies and strategic brand activities.
Establishing a strong personal brand also requires its own unique skillsets. Knowing how to communicate effectively, how to reach your target audience or audiences, how to write across platforms, how to leverage industry news and trends into content, how to establish and maintain a brand-specific voice, and how to research are valuable tools in establishing a strong personal brand.
How ghostwriting can help develop a personal brand
A brief history of ghostwriting
In 1921, sports agent Christy Walsh coined the term “ghostwriting.” Walsh realized that the public was hungry to know more about sports stars of the day, but that he would need writers who could pen “autobiographies” to put the words on pages for the athletes. Walsh was open about the practice. “Don’t insult the intelligence of the public by claiming these men write their own stuff,” he once said.
But Walsh by no means invented ghostwriting. The practice dates at least as far back as far as the 5th century B.C., when scribes wrote material for royalty. Throughout history, world leaders have relied on ghostwriters.
Novelists, too, rely on ghostwriters. It may have George Lucas’s name on it, but the novelization of the first Star Wars movie was written by serial ghost Alan Dean Foster.
Ever wonder how some authors seem to write two books a month? Well, as one joke has it:
Q: How many James Pattersons does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Only one, but he’ll just hire a ghostwriter to do it for him.
Celebrities also rely on ghostwriters, although you wouldn’t know it by the covers of their books.
Tucker Max, who ghostwrote Tiffany Haddish’s book, told Jezebel: “Writing is a distinct skill. Tiffany’s a fantastic storyteller and speaker, but she’s not a very good writer. My job was to get her whole self into that.”
Why hire a ghostwriter?
A ghostwriter can help you build your personal brand in several ways. They can help you clearly and consistently articulate your views, experience, skills, and vision. They can create content specifically for your target audience.
Through collaboration with a ghostwriter, a business leader can raise their visibility, promote their status as an authority in their field, and build greater credibility and influence. Not only will they be seen as being at the forefront of industry trends, but as helping create them.
What ghostwriters do
Ghostwriters often work closely with their clients to capture their ideas and voices and shape brand messaging. Through interviews and research, ghostwriters can become the conduits through which today’s thought-leaders express their vision. Throughout the process, ghostwriters encourage input, feedback, and vision from their collaborators.
A ghostwriter’s output is varied. These anonymous and semi-anonymous scribes work on blogs, thought leadership pieces, speeches, scripts, e-books, Wikipedia entries, song lyrics, comedy routines, op-eds, books, courses, white papers, and editorial content. Did we say speeches? Yes, that’s right; imagine no longer having to come up with your own words at the next industry dinner or convention.
The benefits of hiring a ghostwriter
A skilled ghostwriter has many if not all of the qualities mentioned earlier, including the abilities to:
- communicate effectively, using concise and clear language, good grammar, and storytelling techniques, thus elevating your brand messaging;
- reach a target audience or audiences, using the kind of language and tone that speaks to them;
- write across platforms, tailoring content according to length, tone, and audience expectations;
- leverage industry news and trends into content, thereby helping establish your brand as a thought-leader;
- establish and maintain a brand-specific voice, so your audience is not confused about your brand;
- Execute in-depth research, a practice that can help create content and ensure that your brand is up-to-date.
In other words, while today’s top executives have expertise to share, they often don’t have the bandwidth necessary to most effectively share it. They might have time for the odd blog post or social media update. But how many executives have time to write an op-ed, or consistently keep up a blog of relevant content, or to write a book?
This is where hiring a ghostwriter comes in.
In addition, many ghostwriters specialize in specific industries. They can leverage industry-specific knowledge into content. Hiring a ghostwriter with expertise in your industry saves time in getting them up to speed, especially when it comes to the more technical details of your field. A specialist ghostwriter can jump right in, knowing the ins and outs of your industry, its language, its customer base, and other variables.
Another benefit of hiring a professional ghostwriter is discretion and confidentiality.
If you have concerns about maintaining confidentiality while developing your personal brand, ghostwriters work discreetly and uphold strict confidentiality agreements.
Examples of ghostwriting and personal branding
Quick, who wrote the famous book Profiles in Courage? If you answered John F. Kennedy, you’re only partly right.
Sure, the book is based on the 35th president’s ideas. But Ted Sorensen, a lawyer by profession, actually wrote the first draft of the 1956 volume of short biographies, which won a Pulitzer Prize and helped burnish the JFK brand.
One of the most famous examples is a book that catapulted another future president into the public eye.
In the mid-eighties Tony Schwartz shadowed Donald Trump for 18 months. The result was The Art of the Deal, a book that spent 48 weeks on the Times best-seller list, 13 of them at No. 1 (and led to several other Trump tomes, all ghost-written). The book sold more than a million copies. What did it do for the NYC real estate tycoon? In the words of the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, “The book expanded Trump’s renown far beyond New York City, making him an emblem of the successful tycoon.”
Interestingly, one busy man who still finds time to write his own blog posts is Richard Branson. At least, that was the case in 2014, when the serial entrepreneur and LinkedIn influencer addressed the question of whether or not the words on the platform were his. “As tempting as it is to reply to each person with a resounding ‘yes!,’ I hope that what my posts actually say is enough to prove it is yours truly behind these words,” he wrote.
More recently, controversy has swirled around the use of ghostwriters in hip-hop. Fans and critics have charged mega-stars like Cardi B and Drake with using ghostwriters, which some consider a violation, especially in hip-hop circles, where authenticity is valued. In both cases, Cardi and Drake have built their personal brands to some extent on their reputations as writers (or co-writers) of their tracks.
Here’s another ghostwriter joke:
Q: Why does Cardi B explore haunted libraries?
A: To look for ghostwriters!
Hire a ghostwriter now! You’ll be glad you did.
As we’ve seen, hiring a ghostwriter is a smart and efficient way to build your personal brand. A skilled ghostwriter can save you hundreds if not thousands of hours of costly research, messaging, and content creation. A ghostwriter knowledgeable in your field is able to swiftly leverage new developments and trends into thought-leader-ready op-ends and social media updates.
If you haven’t considered hiring a ghostwriter for personal brand development, now is the time. Search engines are weeding out AI and AI-like content in search of the kind of human touch that a skilled ghostwriter can bring to your personal brand.