Is it OK to Blog for Clients?


Here is something that may be a common scenario: your client loves the idea of a company blog, they just don’t want to write it. Or maybe they’ll work with you on writing it, but don’t have time to “engage” in the online conversation via comments or other methods.

What is a PR pro to do? Write the blog for them? Hire a writer? PRNewser asked some of the top “new media” communicators in the industry for their take.

What they said may surprise you.

“You can certainly do so [blog on behalf of a client] if you disclose who you are and who’s paying you to write for the blog,” said Kevin Dugan, director of marketing communications for FRCH Design Worldwide and author of the Strategic Public Relations blog. “But at the end of the day a blog needs passion to succeed and how much passion can any agency person muster for their client in this publishing format? You might know what topics to write about and you might be a good writer, but it won’t be as successful as someone writing about a topic in which they have passion. You can’t fake it.”

Edelman VP and Blogservations author Phil Gomes says he has never had a client ask him to blog for them. “One of the first-order variables of an agency person in this space is to help the company find its voice online. I do think it’s far more appropriate, instead, to maintain a proper counselor’s role,” he said.

Of course, disclosure, and a genuine interest in the topic at hand are key. Said Gomes, “I’m not averse to the notion so long as proper disclosure is maintained and that the agency-side blogger can be a truly informed source with an industry-level view and a community-focused mindset. I mean…Chances are pretty good that, if our firm landed a guitar client, it’d be tough for me to stay away. I happen to have an encyclopedic knowledge about certain brands and players that, I would hope, would be of objective value to that community whether or not I’m an agency person.”

FutureWorks Principal, PR 2.0 blogger and TechCrunch PR contributor Brian Solis feels it’s not ok to ghostwrite for a client. “What’s the point of starting a conversation if you’re not going to be the person exchanging thoughts, ideas, or expertise in the dialog,” he stated. “It’s not unlike writing love letters for someone else. That person engages with words and sentiment and makes an emotional connection along the way. When blogging, and social media in general, is supposed to be people talking to people, it’s deceptive to do anything that isn’t authentic. Intent is everything and actions speak louder than words.”

POP! PR Jots blogger Jeremy Pepper thinks there are bigger issues at hand. “The real question is ‘should PR firms still be pushing blogs on clients, or should we be discussing becoming involved in the conversation.’ It is a huge difference, and differentiates the responsibilities and work to a great degree,” he said.

Elaborating on this point, Pepper states, “The reality is that a lot of these corporate blogs are written by executives, and just like PR people write speeches for executives, we should expect them to write (or at least polish up) posts by executives. And, while as social media professionals, we tout the importance of a natural voice, it is just as important that they are engaged in conversations. If they blog – or blog via notes to a blog writer – but are responding to comments on the posts, they are at least engaging and discussing.”

According to Pepper, PR pros often confuse a blog with conversation. “The knee-jerk reaction to tout a blog as an end-all, be-all is something that we should have outgrown a long time ago.”