Something not often mentioned when companies decide if it’s worth the effort to start up a corporate blog is the advantages of having a well-established audience when you need one. The argument I normally trot out in these cases is that of Kryptonite. Imagine if those guys had a blog up and running when the Bic Pen story broke – they would have had a platform to repond and would have had tools such as Trackbacks that would have helped draw attention to their response.
I recall Shel Holtz talking about all corporate sites having a "dark link" which is a blank area on their home page that could be lit up with a link to an emergency page in the case of a crisis that needed a rapid respone. The emergency version of this page could quickly be redirected to without calling in the web publishing staff and it would allow the company to quickly get their response out in times of crisis.
I view corporate blogs as very much the same kind of investment. In some respects, building up a readership in advance and a place to go for the "straight dope" is insurance for when the chips are down and you need to get people listening to you and not the spinning of pundit and the press. We’re seeing this now with the first post by GM Chairman & CEO Richard Wagoner on the GM Blog, Fastlane. In it, he seeks to cut through some of the noise around GM’s recent earnings announcement and rally dealers, employees, and customers on a brighter future. As a side benefit, in the comments area, there is some debate about the usefulness of a possible partnership with Nissan/Renault. It’s refreshing to hear a CEO speak this way and I hope the unvarnished feedback equally refreshing.