True confession: I ghost write a lifestyle blog for a celebrity CEO. I aim to make my boss' blog both interesting and fun, while enabling his fans to feel connected to him personally. He counts on me to promote his business by talking about his projects and ventures in a way that makes his readers feel like they're privy to his daily life. It may seem very impersonal, but in actuality, he's very hands on, just as he is with every aspect of his businesses. In fact, he uses his blog to build his brand and communicate with his readers (and competitors) in an informal and direct setting. He lets me know what he wants to tell his readers and I relay it in his voice as best I can.
Though he wants to write it himself, he simply doesn't have the time. And let's face it, when you're rich and busy, why not hire someone else to do it for you? But not all celebrities hire someone to write their blogs. The best ones are often those written by the celebrities themselves.
Let's be honest, though: Celebrities are already famous, often receiving tons of free media attention, and on top of it all many have swarms of adoring fans that praise them on a daily basis. So do celebrities really need more attention than they already have? It really depends on how they've chosen to use their blogs.
Some blog to promote upcoming projects (Victoria Beckham), tailor their public image (Tyra Banks), discuss their personal thoughts (Rosie O'Donnell, Al Roker), or share their political views (Barbara Streisand, Michael Moore). Others use their blogs to create a forum to discuss their daily lives (Wil Wheaton, Zach Braff). I imagine that the number one reason celebrities are drawn to blogging is the same reason that we common folk do it: it's just plain fun. Ask any of the 100 million-plus bloggers worldwide if they hate blogging and see if you come up with a "no." It's a great way to feel connected to people, especially in the increasingly separatist reality in which many famous people live.
Blogs lend themselves to creating a casual environment with fans and also offer a celebrity the chance to tie people into their daily lives. Blogging can also be another way for them to build their personal and professional brands. Some celebrity blogs provide an open dialogue by offering a forum where their fans can leave feedback, ask questions, and even naysay whatever topic is presented by the author. Blogging may be a voyeuristic expression that leaves the author open to public criticism, but this can be a useful tool in some cases. For a successful public figure like my boss, this is the best marketing tool he could ask for. It's a productive alternative to hiring an outside research company to find out how his brand and image are perceived in the public eye.
Blogging is a clear extension of a marketing campaign for any celebrity, but celebrity blogs themselves are also a logical extension for major media Web sites. Signing up high profile names to increase page views has become more commonplace since Ariana Huffington launched Huffington Post. For instance, as part of a larger plan to revamp its site, dotcom veteran iVillage has enlisted "Today" show co-host Meredith Vieira, to blog for the site. And other media properties are even working with celebrities to help cover the presidential election, such as LOGO Online recently signing on former N'Sync member Lance Bass to write guest commentary for its presidential forum The Visible Vote '08.
When celebrities blog, they sometimes offer fans their true voices and not just a media construct of them. Unfortunately some of the celebrites we'd most like to hear from don't blog. You know Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie would attract some readers if they decided to talk about each other in their own words on a personal blog? How juicy would it be to read about Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton's rehab and prison "epiphanies" online? If they did it, we'd read it.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban started his blog, Blog Maverick three years ago, because as he says, "it was in response to traditional media's habit of twisting interviews to fit the headlines they wanted to create." Likewise, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling started his blog 38pitches.com to raise awareness of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) as well as Malignant Melanoma, of which his wife Shonda is a survivor. He also uses it to communicate with fans of his team, baseball, and the computer gaming industry. For a press shy celebrity like Schilling, his blog not only offers him the opportunity to correct the media; he is the media.
Yet when celebrities choose not to blog, fans and haters sometimes decide to do it for them, a phenomenon that now has its own name; these bloggers are called "celeblogrities," and they sometimes become famous in their own right for dedicating their entire blogs to the daily lives and gossip of famous figures. Take for instance the mysterious writer, now known to be Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes magazine, who pens the The Secret Life of Steve Jobs. Lyons used the blog to lampoon Mr. Jobs and his egotistical leadership, and also pokes fun at the excess of the Silicon Valley tech culture and the people who participate in it. But the most popular and snarkiest of the "celeblogrities" is Perez Hilton, who made a name for himself as a celebrity blogger and landed his own 15 minutes of fame, garnering book deals and TV appearances. Others earning top ratings in this genre of blogging include Go Fug Yourself, Damn I'm Cute, and Pink Is The New Blog.
So who has the best celebrity blogs? We decided to rate them on three factors: authenticity, frequency, and interaction with fans. And don't forget they make enjoyable reading material.
Authenticity: Are they sharing their real experiences with us or just giving us a constant string of press releases? If the celebrity is writing it herself, its much more meaningful than if its ghost written by a professional (sorry, boss). Editing is acceptable, but still not as raw and personal as an honest, untouched public spilling-of-the-beans. For some reason whether we hate a celebrity or love them, their typos seem more endearing and real.
Consistency: Does this celebrity keep his or her blog updated enough to keep us coming back? The best blogs are the ones that show that the authors are engaged with their readers.
Interaction with fans: Is the celebrity answering fans' questions and clearing up rumors? Is there an open forum for fans to chat with each other and make comments? How involved is the celebrity?
Based on that criteria, here are some of the best:
The Tyra Banks Show
Not surprisingly, her blog is all about her favorite topic: TYRA! Though, it appears that her blog entries are dictated to a Tyra Banks Show publicist, Tyra speaks openly about her experiences, in terms of her body image and career. Sometimes it's funny, but it's written in a voice that can read as if she's talking to an audience of five-year olds, which comes off a bit patronizing at times. On the upside her blog is chock full of damage control from her daily antics on the show. You know, the over the top "I'm just like you guys, but more fun!" variety, the blogging version of Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah's couch.
Tyra tries to identify with her audience by talking about her physical flaws. Unfortunately, the model guilt that she suffers from is so abounding that her attempts to be "down" with her fans come across as forced. Nevertheless, her blog is updated frequently, it's engaging, and it serves its purpose. Besides, she offers excellent personal beauty advice.
People tend to hate Moby for what he stands for -- or love him for what he stands for. Either way, his blog is good because it's written 100 percent by Moby and has an open forum where people can chat about Moby and his politics. How can you hate a man who doesn't forbid commentary? He's often a bit preachy, but his musings about living in New York can be endearing.
Braff's blog style is similar to Moby's, he never talks about politics for fear of cracking the hipster image he's so carefully constructed. He isn't aloof enough to rest in the hipster cubby of the world, but that's what makes both he and his blog endearing. Even though Braff uses his blog to promote his TV appearances and movies, it comes across as thoughtful and fairly amusing. He thanks his fans profusely and opens his posts for fan comments.
Though Rosie's blog doesn't have a niche focus and deals with many issues simultaneously, the blog gets brownie points for being written in her own words with new entries appearing every few days. Hers is one of the most popular celebrity blogs on the Internet, filled with personal videos, essays, and poems about everything from her family life to her political views. She's not very gossipy and remains fairly professional about her falling out with "The View," but she recently posted an expose in The New York Times about Donald Trump's less than stellar casino business. The public war continues -- online.
John Mayer Blog
Whether you like him or don't even know his music, reading John Mayer's blog will make you a fan. It is hilarious -- his posts are short and witty, making them an easy read. In his July 23 post, "In Response To The Arrest Of 63 Fans," he wrote: "First, to the 46 people accused of underage drinking; what were you thinking? You have your whole life to engage in underage drinking. What's the hurry? I didn't start underage drinking until I was 26. Underage drinking is not an function of age, but of style. And you kids are way too young to truly appreciate the nuances of true underage drinking."
It also helps that he writes in a conversational tone. For extra laughs, Mayer includes funny video clips, reminding us that he was a stand-up comedian. The singer/songwriter offers views on everything from global warming to music. In fact, it's so well written you'd think he has an editor. But in the end, you realize that it all comes directly from him.
Mayer also uses his blog creatively to market his eco-friendly product, "Another Kind of Green," of which the first concept is a sustainable shopping bag.
Of course, not all celebrites know their way around a blog. Some of the worst on our list include Victoria Beckham, Paris Hilton, and Britney Spears. The worst kind of blog is a boring blog. Lazy blogging is no fun for anyone, and these ladies deserve an honorable mention for being the laziest of the lazy.
Beckham's blog is about as interesting to read as an eye exam chart at the DMV. Her Web site is pragmatic and straightforward, filled with press releases and video clips of her, but the actual blog is just a directory of photos uploaded by mobile phone which are posted with dry captions next to each photo. Nothing here folks! Shows over!
On the other hand, Hilton blogs on her MySpace page, writing infrequent posts about her various projects that read as if they come from a publicity team. Though since she's been released from jail, she promises to connect to her readers by updating her blog more often. Unfortunately she wrote that almost two months ago, with no updates since.
As for Spears, she used to practice damage control by writing letters to her fans on her official site. She's recently removed all of the juicy archives though, and the only post that still appears is about her umbrella incident at rehab back in February.