Blogging started out as a personal communication tool, for people to share their thoughts, ideas, beliefs with the world at large, and at the same time receive feedback. This technology has evolved however, encompassing a different type of broadcaster who is speaking to an entirely different audience. There is currently an emerging trend for business to setup blogs on the Internet – thus the corporate blog was born.

The concept of a public platform where people can voice their own ideas or concerns is nothing new. Centuries ago, speakers stood atop wooden soap boxes making impromptu speeches about religion, politics, and other topics. These speakers were free to express their concerns, release frustrations, or to preach the virtues of prophets and demigods.

The modern form of the soapbox is a website or a blog and millions of people have jumped on board their modern-day soapboxes to spread their ‘word’ and their ‘truth’ (as many as 112 million blogs according to the recent figures released from the blog search engine Technorati).

The current trend of corporate blogging comes in three distinct flavours – Internal blogs, external blogs, and CEO blogs.

Internal blogs exist within a closed environment, usually a company’s Intranet, and offers benefits such as:

– employee participation
– free discussion of issues
– collective intelligence
– direct communication between various layers of an organisation
– a sense of community

External blogs are accessible to the general public and allow for company employees or spokespersons to share their views. External corporate blogs, by their very nature are biased, though they can also offer a more direct and informal communications channel, where traditional channels such as advertising tend to be more formal. These blogs are often used to:/p>

– hype up the company and its products and services
– announce and discuss new products and services
– explain and clarify policies
– react to public criticism on certain issues

CEO blogs are where the top-levels of management speak their mind, though there is currently some debate as to whether CEOs should blog or not. Marketing legend Seth Goddin observes that blogs work when they are based on:

– candor
– urgency
– timeliness
– pithiness and
– controversy

…and he asks the question “Does this sound like a CEO to you?”

There are a number of strategic benefits to creating an online blog, all of which are outlined in Lee Odden’s article SEO Benefits from Blogs.

For further information on how to write a corporate blog, have a read of this great article from SCOUT Backbone Media, titled 10 Tips for Becoming a Great Corporate Blogger.