There’s a, well.... how can I put it... rather depressing post by former Friendly Ghost aka Brendan Cooper on the issue of ghost-blogging. It’s quite timely given my post on the subject the other week, although Brendan comes at the issue with a very different perspective.
The post begins:
“The blogosphere is no garden of Eden. We can try to self-regulate, but in so doing we’re only exposing our own naïveté.”
And it continues with the theme that, like it or not, the internet will evolve to match the current world of traditional media and PR.
Rather than clients appointing us to help them create sustainable, long-term relationships based on trust and respect using the social web, it will be business as usual where spin, ghost writing and paid advertorials are not only common place online but expected.
If that sounds a little bleak, Brendan tells us to quit our bleating and hammers home his point:
“There will be a time, a year or two or three hence, in which we look back at the arguments against ghost blogging, and laugh. It lacks transparency. It lacks integrity. It lacks authenticity. Gimme a break. In a year or two or three hence, the big money will be savvy. It will be pushing messages out in every digital channel available. The people you think are saying things, will not be saying them. Other people will.”
I find this alarming both in the sense that Brendan thinks these thoughts but is also prepared to share them with others - although perhaps I *would* think that given that Edelman takes very much the opposite stance to Porter Novelli. In fact we've just launched a group blog about PR and the drive for transparency appropriately called Authenticities.
In a way, Brendan’s view kind of makes sense. He is a former copywriter and now social media planner – which suggests to me (and is alluded to in by Brendan his post) a strong tradition with top-down, command and control communications.
Arising from Brendan’s post are a number of interesting things. Firstly, I personally believe Brendan is missing the entire challenge to traditional media and PR created by the internet. People don’t trust advertising, PR and marketing. That’s the power of social media – it is connecting real people with real people. That’s why it works. Faking blogs or social networks etc will similarly shut down genuine relationships built on trust.
Secondly, Brendan’s post is timely because if offers a startling counterpoint to the idea raised by Dave Winer and now picked up on by Doc Searls that maybe it’s time to get out of blogging. Blogging is becoming flogging, suggests Searls. Brendan seems to reinforce this idea – or at least confirm its growth.
Thirdly, I was blown away by the Cluetrain manifesto when I first read it. Brendan suggests in a comment that the Cluetrain Manifesto is “pretty naïve”. Um. Woah. I’m not even going to get into that one.