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The War on Authenticity

Feature Article | December 24, 2014 by Tim Clark

As a former journalist who long ago crossed over to the “dark side” of corporate communications, I often wonder how much of today’s digital content – a majority of which purports to be thought leadership – is ghost-written.

There’s no doubt it’s a ludicrously high percentage. But how did we become so accepting of this morally questionable practice that, against all logic, thrives in today’s painfully transparent media landscape

Obviously, not everyone retains the skill or desire to be a rock star storyteller and that’s ok. But for those that do have the desire, help isn’t far away. I advise very talented people every day and help them find their writing voice. From interns, to senior executives, many struggle with the art of communicating simply.

When motivated individuals focus on what matters, and find their writing voice, an amazing transformation takes place. Marketing jargon, buzzwords and corny platitudes take a back seat to authentic storytelling.

Authenticity holds the key to unleash an employee brand journalism resistance to combat ghost written “assets” that continue to invade the media landscape. It may not satiate every marketing/communications activity, but there’s no question it’s extremely effective in building brand awareness and community engagement with employees, customers and partners.

So if a bit of authentic brand journalism mojo can help elevate a company’s visibility, why turn to ghost writing at all?

For one, content farms make it pretty easy for companies to tap into networks of freelance writers, programmed to produce and distribute content more concerned with SEO trickery than authentic storytelling. Results from using content farms are a mixed bag and prominent publications have been predicting their demise for the past few years.

There’s also the “quality versus quantity” debate that doesn’t seem like much of a debate from my perspective. Far too many people are still obsessed with publishing high volumes of low quality, ghost written assets that create a false sense of social media traction and influence.

These types of smoke and mirrors tactics won’t be going away anytime soon. But for this former journalist who’s been at the forefront of the content marketing trenches, it’s encouraging to see the smoke clearing and mirrors cracking.

This story originally appeared on LinkedIn.
Photo: Shutterstock

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