The friendly face of ghostwriting

As a communications company, Quo Vadis is often called on to produce writing on behalf of our clients. These can take the form of speeches, indepth articles, or quotes for a media release, all of which will be published in the client’s name. This is called “ghostwriting”.

People often react with amazement on being told that we ghostwrite, finding it difficult to believe that we would be happy to see our writing published in someone else’s name. However, it’s very satisfying to create something with which a client is sufficiently comfortable to see published in his or her name.

There is an art to ghostwriting, however, which requires the application of various skills.

The first requirement is an open mind. As a ghostwriter, one is challenged to see and understand the world from the client’s point of view. One can’t do that if one has fixed, rigid and inflexible ideas. That doesn’t mean, of course, that as a writer one doesn’t have an opinion! It just means being willing to enter into someone else’s thought space in a way that allows one to write with assurance from his or her point of view.

This process is helped by the second requirement: a willingness to explore new subjects, even if one has had no interest in them previously.

My favourite example is being asked to write about concrete, something about which I had not previously had much awareness. But having visited a few building sites to observe concrete “in action”, I discovered that concrete is fascinating. Opening my mind to the beauty of concrete enabled me to write about it with conviction and sincerity.

A third essential part of ghostwriting is to feel that you have got under the skin, as it were, of your client. When ghostwriting, it often helps to mentally “hear” the client say the words that are being written, in their own voices with their own unique inflections, timbre and accents.

In this way, words that may be uncomfortable for them, or ones that they might stumble over during the delivery of a speech, can be avoided. This also helps to make judgments about the length and complexity of sentences – should they be short and direct, or more complex in structure?

These are just three of the techniques used in ghostwriting in a business environment. Good quality ghostwriting allows one to connect with one’s client and his or her mind.

One of my clients likes to describe me as her “secret weapon”, freely acknowledging that she does not have writing expertise, as a result of which she makes use of our services to write her speeches, articles and media releases.

As a ghostwriter, being a “secret weapon” is the ultimate compliment.

  • Ruth Coggin is an Executive Strategist at Quo Vadis Communications

 

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The Internet encourages the halo effect

The best businesses know that word of mouth referrals represent the best marketing for ones company because integral to such a lead is the halo effect.

In marketing terms the halo effect gives to your company that same positive image associated with the word itself. There is an automatic bias shown by the consumer to your services or products.

Having attended The Internet Show in Sandton in Johannesburg last week, it struck me that the main theme running through all the presentations I sat through, was the importance of and the ease in creating the halo effect for one’s brand on the internet.

As businesses we are privileged to be invited into a consumer’s home through social media tools such as Facebook. The consumer has “liked” us for a reason. The important thing is not to abuse this invitation by posting anything and everything on to the post.

This is an abuse of the trust that your followers bestowed on you when they “liked” your site.

We need to remember to have a conversation with the consumer, not lecture them or “preach” by posting irrelevant links. Consumers are information savvy, and need to feel they are your friend. The challenge is to be ready with the answers that they may have regarding our businesses before they even ask them. They want to be educated, informed and empowered. We need to be ready to do just that.

Continuously ask oneself why someone became a fan of our page on Facebook, or a follower on Twitter, Google+ or Linked In, to name a few of the multitude of social media tools available. Ask what our followers are saying about us and create strategies to discern their wants and needs and come up with a strategy to fill those gaps. Include them in this process by giving them an opportunity to talk with you and share suggestions and ideas.

Many companies feel the need to strategise about everything under the sun, but forget to build social media strategies. Word of mouth is a tried and tested way to credibly market us and social media is a Cyber Age extension of this.

Perhaps the best way to motivate one to create a good social media strategy is to compare the power of a tweet or post about one’s brand to that of compound interest earned on money in the bank. Interest is earned on the money in your account and more interest is earned on that interest and so on. Similarly one little tweet gets re-tweeted and that re-tweet gets re-tweeted and next thing you know your brand is trending.

But, the question is: is the message out there on your brand positive or negative? The answer to that would depend upon how important you view social media and how well you have integrated your current strategies with your social media one. Not to do so, can make or break your brand.

  • Chantal Meugens is Senior Account Manager at Quo Vadis Communications