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  • Brian Castle

Working with a Ghostwriter

The Parklife Guide to SMB Thought Leadership, Part 3: Working with a Ghostwriter

In previous installments of this series, we’ve defined thought leaders, helped you understand why you’d want to be one, and explained how you’d go about achieving this status. In this article, let’s explore what it’s like to work with a ghostwriter.

There’s a lot of great content online (as well as some that’s not-so-much), and we like to think that we’re a part of the former at Parklife. In virtually every industry, there are founders and executives who are innovating, pushing forward new leadership philosophies, and taking new approaches to their business models in ways that work better for their customers and employees. On top of all of that, they’re doing a fine job of showing their work to the targeted audiences that matter.

Be a Superhuman, or Hire a Ghostwriter

Some of these founders and executives are stating their cases, rather eloquently, in online forums, some of which they own (blogs, social media) and in articles placed in appropriate trade media and mainstream outlets. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll start to notice that some leaders manage to pop up a lot more than others in your respective feeds. You may know these people personally, on a close-enough level to know that their work keeps them extremely busy on its own, just like yours does with you.

So, what’s their secret? Do they have a lot more time on their hands than you thought? Are they all great writers and speakers, on top of being great executives?

Don’t worry, most of them aren’t superhuman, so you don’t have to acquire superpowers yourself. The secret for many business leaders in advancing their thought leadership is that they work with a ghostwriter. You might think at first that having a ghostwriter is unethical or inauthentic, and we’d actually make the opposite case.

The Power of Collaboration

Every time we’ve worked with a business leader, it’s been a full collaboration. The creative process actually starts and ends with the executive, whether we are crafting a blog article, speech, podcast, or video series. To understand this dynamic, you need to understand the common ways that ghostwriters and executives work together.

Collaborations can take many shapes. Some of the people we’ve worked with like to get some bullet points down—the main outline on a subject—and let us flesh out a draft for them to refine. Others like to take a stab at what we might call a “non-writer’s first draft,” just getting as many of their thoughts on a document as quickly as they can.

Others use methods that don’t involve the written word to get their thoughts across to their ghostwriter. We always get really excited when one of our favorite entrepreneurs, an innovator in the residential cleaning business, sends us a voice note dictated to his iPhone. There’s something old school about that (it brings back memories of pre-personal computer dictation equipment formerly favored by doctors, lawyers, and bankers), but it gets the job done. Voice memos, as you can imagine, allow us to hear the leader’s passion and also learn, with fair precision, where her passion lies on a given subject.

Build a Thought Leadership Platform, Together

One of our favorite ways to capture the thoughts of thought leaders is to interview them, by phone, on camera, or for a podcast episode. When you’re shooting video interviews (which can yield a collection of shorts suitable for YouTube and Vimeo, as well as distribution on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter), you can take the transcripts and shape even more content suitable for blogs. We’ve put this emerging best practice into play in our own work. What’s especially great is the efficiency of this practice: You’re able to create a virtual thought leadership platform with way less time commitment from your client, rather than creating a single video, for example.

In summary, the answer for many business leaders isn’t simply making time to write. Some of the more brilliant folks we’ve worked with tell us it’s a matter of time. And it’s not always what you think, that they don’t have time to sit down and write something—it’s an acknowledgement that the professional writer can do in 30 minutes what takes others hours of staring at a blank document on their computer screen. We get paid to be good, but perhaps just as important, we get paid to be fast.

While just about everything in business, especially in service-oriented companies, is a function of expertise, time, and cost, we would advise that thought leadership is better-suited to collaboration. When you’re working with a ghostwriter, especially one that’s asking all the right questions of you during the creative process, you’ll realize your ideas more fully. And when you have a strong collaborative workflow, the resulting material will be both ethically generated and authentic.

We love working with entrepreneurs and executives who are looking to add thought leadership activities to their marketing mix, in order to achieve their business and career goals. Our team can craft a plan that plays to your strengths and help you execute efficiently. From a value perspective, this is some of the most important work we do. Contact us today at to get started on your path to thought leadership.

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