Now, if the availability of a good writer, with good industry insight can get a firm to embrace writing articles, case studies, and white papers as a means for promotion, that is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. There are some inherent pitfalls in the process though. First is conflict of interest. If an article seems to be written by a known industry expert, but it is actually written by a firm that will benefit from the content of the piece, there is, in my opinion, a clear ethical problem here. The second issue is a bit more subtle, and is a little more concerning to me as a marketer. That is, when the articles and their content are completely foreign to the claimed author. Invariably, someone will ask the expert about the article, and if the expert cannot answer, there will be egg on the firm’s public face. Additionally, I’ll argue that this is akin to deceptive advertising. This is especially true when we are talking about services, as we make our decisions of whether or not to use a service provider (financial advisor, lawyer, auto mechanic, etc.) based on what we perceive to be their expertise. If what we perceive as that person’s expertise actually belongs to someone else, then we are being defrauded.
Yes, I know that experts are busy people and they don’t always have time to write. I am also fully aware that some people with great expertise in their fields are not necessarily good writers. So, what to do? YFind a good writer within your firm or from the outside and have them talk to, exchange emails with, and perhaps even job shadow the expert you’d like to showcase. Then have the writer draft an article and have it approved by the expert (yes, that means they have to read it), and publish the piece with a by-line that errs on the side of transparency. That can range from something like: “By Ellen Expert and William Writer,” to “By Brian Brainiac as told to Anna-Marie Author.”
Remember, good MPR is always authentic!