There seems to be a perpetual debate over whether companies should blog. Most companies are afraid of potential backlash or simply do not know where to start.

B.L. Ochman says if companies have to go through any of the following, then a blog isn’t a good fit:

1 – every post has to be vetted by legal or PR. It won’t ring true.
2- you’re not prepared to allow any negative comments. Blogs are not monologues.
3- the purpose of your blog is message control — which is, and always has been an illusion.

These are great points. Yet corporate blogs can be done without those controls. If you’re really serious about starting a blog that has the blessing of a corporate entity, what you need is an internal evangelist. That person needs to have enough internal connections to bypass the usual controls and to get things done quickly. A blog post that has to wait until legal has time to look it over or needs approval from someone who’s not in the office today will become old news before it has a chance to see the light of day.

Having a comment policy when you launch is critical, as well. Negative comments should be allowed but it is expected that most will weed out comments that use profanity or are personal attacks.

Debbie Weil gives an example of a good corporate blog from LinkedIn. It has a clear, concise comment policy that lets visitors know what to expect.

IndiaPR has a great compilation of corporate blogging case studies. Those that can do it right experience impressive ROI.

To blog or not to blog? My belief is that if you don’t talk about your company, somebody else will. Actually, somebody else already is, and it’s better to join the conversation than ignore it.

As my pal David Binkowski said: “Very few companies can afford to not open up and have a dialog with their stakeholders.”

— Tonja Deegan