Ghostwriting might seem like an out-of-body experience, but don’t worry – it should. Because while your body is doing the work, it’s not yourself you’re representing.
You’re a ghostwriter – and with a little practice, you can become a spookily good one, too.
Whether it’s a politician you respect, your favorite author, singer or rapper, there’s a good chance at some point they’ve at least met with a ghostwriter – a professional skilled in the art of composing entertaining, enlightening and/or inspiring prose.
The same holds true in the public relations industry, too. While many clients know they have something to say, the means by which how to say it can sometimes be elusive. With the fear of public speaking a perennial favorite on people’s lists of phobias, ghostwriters have forged careers of putting words in other people’s mouths.
Make no mistake about it – ghostwriters are needed. To become a good ghostwriter, however, takes more than just “a way with words.” It takes knowledge of the subject (both who you’re ghostwriting for and the subject matter), their target audience and the ability to captivate the attention of both. Just make sure your client’s words are authentic or they could end up looking worse than poor Rob & Fab – Girl You Know It’s True. Bring your next ghostwriting project to life with these three solutions to common content problems.
THE PROBLEM: Your client and/or subject is, for lack of a better word, boring.
THE SOLUTION: Discover their passion and make it yours.
Make no mistake – some things just aren’t going to be sexy. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important to both your client and the people that could be affected by what they have to say. Remembering this just might help in asking better questions and in turn, produce better answers that result in better copy. You might not be into tax-deferred annuities, but someone is – that’s why you’ve been tasked with writing the piece.
THE PROBLEM: You are dealing with complex subject matter and having trouble understanding it, let alone writing about it.
THE SOLUTION: Follow the KISS principle.
If you’re unfamiliar, the KISS principle is not a merchandising arm of the 70s rock band of the same name. The KISS principle stands for the idea that applies to approaching all difficult subject matter: Keep it simple, stupid. If your client is the expert, take advantage of their expertise … By stressing the need to simplify the content and limiting industry buzzwords. Are there two or three points that need to be made in the press release? Clarify those, followed by the details that help support each point and – here’s the critical part – why they are important. This isn’t faking your way through it; it’s strategically deciphering and breaking down information to relate it to a more widespread audience that might otherwise have difficulty comprehending it upon first glance.
Also, don’t worry about trying to cram in every detail; simply make sure you understand the essential information and that it is written in a way the target audience can too. A reporter can always follow-up for more information. Less – especially in the information overload age – sometimes is more.
THE PROBLEM: You and the client can’t agree on the tone or message of the content.
THE SOLUTION: Agree to disagree … And then agree with the client.
Sometimes ghostwriters may have to work with clients that inspire articles like this. But if your client is convinced they are Beyoncé, you may need to just need to be a good backup dancer – or writer.
Instead, try asking the client the following three questions: (1) Who do they wish to reach; (2) What is the call to action, and, most importantly (3) What impression do they want people to have upon reading the content? Having an example of previous success can help a client understand why you’re recommending a different approach. Especially when their name is on the line because of your words.
Utilize these tips and you’ll find out just how well you can scare up great content when you put your mind – and spirit – into a good ghostwriting experience.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
- The Importance of Word Choice in Communicating Your Brand’s Message
- Journalism Confidential: How to Avoid a Wild Pitch
- Research: Great Content Doesn’t Just Happen
- Vocab Rehab: Refresh Your Copy