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5 Tips for CEOs and Executives Hiring a Ghostwriting Agency for the First Time

By Kathryn Hawkins. Content Creation Craft of Writing
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Bylined executive blog content can help to generate leads and support talent acquisition. Learn how to get started with a ghostwriting service.

In today’s competitive marketplace, your company brand is more important than ever, which is why more and more CEOs and executives have put themselves in the spotlight to share thought leadership and industry insights. Your company’s executives likely already have powerful business networks—so distributing high-quality content under their bylines on platforms like LinkedIn can tap into their influential second- and third-degree connections, with the potential to reach millions of high-value prospects for your business.

This type of content can help your company spotlight your CEO and executives as industry thought leaders and enhance the company’s reputation at large—serving as a critical tool for generating new business leads. A recent LinkedIn/Edelman study found that 55% of industry decision-makers use thought leadership as an important way to vet companies that they’re considering. And 61% are even willing to pay a premium for working with brands they consider thought leaders.

Beyond lead generation, thought leadership is a key strategy for recruitment marketing as well. A strong industry voice can help you lure your top recruits away from your competitors, and keep your talented employees engaged with their work.

Your marketing team may already be doing a great job of meeting KPIs, but when prospective customers and employees get to hear from your executive team directly, it can add a human face to your mission and help set your company apart. The challenge is that to do this, you’ll need to craft robust blog content, thoughtful LinkedIn posts, Medium articles, industry op-eds, and other content that has the potential to gain traction within your industry. But because your executive team doesn’t have extra hours in the day to spare, working with an agency that provides ghostwriting services can be a worthwhile investment.

Partnering with a ghostwriter for the first time can be tricky, which is why it’s so important to work with an agency that understands your executives’ goals and can capture their unique voices.

Here are some best practices to follow:

Choose an agency with extensive ghostwriting experience.

Before you commission an agency to develop content on your executive team’s behalf, you want to be sure that this team has the skills, talent and experience to get your message across – in a way that sounds authentic. The right agency will have a strong track record of providing these services for other companies and brands, as well as a stable of talented writers so they can match you with writers who are knowledgable about your particular industry. Better yet, they have a successful record in content placement on external business leadership blogs. They should understand your vision and goals for what your executives want to get across in their content.

Lay the groundwork with a detailed strategy.

Your marketing or talent brand team can likely provide some recommendations as to the type of thought leadership content needed and which outlets can best reach your intended audience, based on the executives’ business priorities. Once your internal team develops a strategy, they can provide your selected agency with a structured plan for content development, often incorporating several executive stakeholders based on the story’s focus.If your internal team doesn’t have experience in developing and promoting thought leadership content, ask your chosen agency for support in developing a thought leadership content strategy as well as developing the content itself. The strategy should provide documentation around some of the key campaign and messaging goals, the content cadence, types of assets, and key metrics for tracking success, which might include elements such as increased social followers on LinkedIn, traffic to the blog content, comments, and other benchmarks.

Get your executive invested in the onboarding process.

Ensuring that your executive gets involved during the kick-off process will help the agency team get a clear understanding of the project goals. More important, they’ll have the opportunity to “hear” how your executive communicates. Over time, your ghostwriting team will be able to take on any topic and sound just like your executive with minimal effort on your part.

Use an iterative process at the beginning.

Ghostwriting might take a little bit of trial and error before the agency achieves the type of content you envision—that’s not a big deal; it just means it can take a little while to understand each other’s expectations. Ask for an outline and sample sections for the first few assignments and provide constructive feedback and suggestions to help the team complete the full project, reviewing it in person with the executive and passing your team’s aggregated notes along to your agency team. Good communication is key, and by being clear about your expectations, you’ll be able to set up a strong workflow early.

Set up a system of frictionless communication.

The more source material your ghostwriting team has, the better the finished product will be. While you can’t necessarily make your executives accessible every minute of the day, ask them to participate in low-key planning sessions by dashing out bullet points for each piece of content via email or text, or setting up regular brainstorming calls that they can do during their commutes or other down times. Your agency can also repurpose existing material, such as speeches or internal memos, so be sure to share anything that’s relevant so that they can do their best work with minimal time investment from your executive team.

Creating executive-bylined industry thought leadership content is a proven way to elevate your brand, both among prospective customers and employees. By mapping out a detailed thought leadership strategy that capitalizes on your executive team’s existing influence, you can use their social capital to elevate the entire company.

Looking for ghostwriting support? Get in touch for a free consultation, or check out our turnkey executive branding packages.

Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.

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