Do You Really Need a Blog?

You probably think that most companies have a blog by now. In fact, according to recent research, only about 15 percent of Fortune 500 companies have external blogs.

The ideal corporate blog evolves in an atmosphere of trust in which posters don’t feel intimidated or stifled. But encouraging openness while discouraging damaging remarks is a difficult tightrope to walk.

There are two kinds of company blogs–internal and external. There is far less legal risk with an internal blog, mainly because most employees don’t post negative remarks for fear of recrimination.

Internal blogs, which are usually accessed via the company’s intranet, can be viewed by all employees. Since staff members use them as meeting sites and forums for e-mail discussions, these blogs allow a diverse range of participants. Internal blogs are useful for knowledge sharing, project management, and broad communication among teams and across sites.

In contrast, publicly available external blogs allow customers, business partners, employees and spokespeople to get information quickly, share opinions and ask questions. External company blogs are also one of the media’s top tools for finding news and feature ideas about an organization, which can sometimes make company executives cringe.

Before deciding whether to build a public-facing blog, ask yourself if your customers and prospects generally read blogs. If not, then why would you need one? Well, blogs do provide some clear benefits, including search engine optimization (SEO), maximum media and public relations attention, collaborative product development, improved customer assistance, the ability to conduct polls and receive feedback easily, and improved customer and prospect relations.

In addition, both internal and external blogs offer increased openness, as well as direct, timely communication. They are also a relatively inexpensive way to gather credible information.