February 23, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Blogging is the fastest growing section of the Internet. Blog readership jumped 58% in 2004, says the Pew Internet and American Life Project. And it's no longer just a personal publishing space - it's fast becoming an effective marketing tool.

“There are several good reasons why a business should blog,” says Sally Falkow, senior strategist at Expansion Plus Inc., a Los Angeles based Internet and PR firm

Falkow speaks internationally on Internet marketing and blogging and writes her own blog about Internet Marketing strategy.

“One of the most important reasons to start a corporate blog is that it raises your search engine visibility and brand value online,” says Falkow. “A blog site is mainly text, has fresh content on a regular basis and is linked to other articles and blogs – all perfect search engine criteria.”

An IAB Nielsen/Net Rating study released in 2004 clearly linked high search results to better brand recognition and value.

Another postive result of blogging is that it puts a human face on the organization and opens a channel of conversation. Corporate blogging is gaining some high profile supporters - Boeing Vice President Randy Baseler is one. Sun Microsystems President Jonathan Schwartz is another.

You’ll find the thoughts and ideas of General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz at FastLane, the GM blog. If you really want to know what Intel President Paul Otellini thinks, read his blog.

ThinkEquity Partners, a San Francisco emerging growth investment bank, launched a corporate blog this week to generate ideas and attract analysts, bankers and others interested in discussing growth companies.

But there are some downsides, says Falkow. “Bloggers can generate a lot of influence,” she warns. “We’ve seen a couple of high profile media people toppled by the power of the blogosphere."

As the practice of corporate blogging grows, the question arises as to what is open for discussion and what should not be talked about in blogs.

Bloggers at Microsoft, Google and Wells Fargo have lost their jobs for disclosing too much.

"Blogging offers tremedous advantages - but it would be foolish to ignore what is being said in blogs," says Falkow.

"After all, you're starting a conversation. Any business that opens the communication lines to their public must put a system in place to monitor what is being said,” says Falkow.

“A clearly stated company policy on bogging is vital,” advises Falkow. “It has become a fact of corporate life. It's a great internal knowledge managemenet tool too. Your policies on blogging must be included in the employee induction manual.”

Although there is some trepidation about the danger of starting a corporate blog, the positive results far outweigh the problems. Companies should take the plunge and start the conversation. Just be aware of the pitfalls and make sure you have all your bases covered.