Practical PR Tips: Ghost Writing for High-Level People

When you work in communications you will probably have to ghost write a quote for a press release, a blog post, a social media comment, an article or maybe a speech for a top-level manager in your organization. Often it must be approved by the manager you are ghosting but you have limited access to them; you might also be uncomfortable trying to be the voice of someone you don't normally interact with.

Luckily there are some simple techniques you can learn to make this task easier and faster, minimizing the stress and optimizing the results.

LEARN THEIR STYLE. Before you attempt to write something in the style of someone else you need to learn how they talk and write. Prepare by reading things that you think they wrote themselves and watch them speak to get a feel for the style and tone they use. You don't have to identify all the style markers because your brain can automatically learn to recognize someone's style.

IMAGINE THEM SAYING THE WORDS. When you have written something try imagining the person you are writing for saying the words out loud. Does it sound like them? Or does it sound more like you or, worse, like PR speak? Revise your draft to make it sound more authentic, using a style, words and expressions that the person is known to use.

GIVE THEM MULTIPLE CHOICES. When you are just writing a short quote for a press release or a critical social media post it saves time to offer alternatives. If you write just one version and the boss doesn't like it you will have to start another cycle and each cycle takes time. I often provide initially five different alternatives, adding that they can mix pieces from these, giving many more choices. This way you can usually get approval in one cycle. Most people also appreciate having this choice. Watching which alternatives they choose also gives you more clues about their preferred style.

MAKE THE DRAFT EASY TO READ. Try to find out how they like to have the draft. Do they want to read it on their tablet? Do they want a paper copy? Do they use markup? Do they want to just tell you what to change? The first time you might get this wrong but there is no excuse the second time. And if they do ask for a paper version make sure that you choose a large enough font. Sometimes people struggle to read small fonts in an uncertain light and don't like to be reminded of this all the time.

Ghost writing for important people is just part of the job when you work in communications. At the beginning this prospect can be a source of anxiety, but the upside of this is that you will get more access to senior people than many people in the organization that outrank you. If nothing else this is good for your network and also a useful learning experience. Being able to talk to busy leaders is a useful skill to acquire.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing on this and other communication topics you can contact me by email on conseil@andrewhennigan.com, through my website http://andrewhennigan.com or by phone on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.

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