I’m talking about whether you are monitoring the blogosphere for news about your business – if you have a corporate blog or not. If regular searches on Blogger’s Blog Search or Technorati or Newsgator are not part of your communications routine, you are not doing your homework.

I’d like to give you some examples. Yesterday I posted about Wal-Mart’s fake blog (not because I hate Wal-Mart, but because I wanted to use it as an illustration of why honest communication on business blogs is the only way to go. In an earlier discussion I had pointed out that the risks of ghostwriting blogs were too great – i.e. bad PR when you’re inevitably unmasked. It would seem my thesis was correct). I mentioned Wal-Mart’s PR agency in the post. Over the last 24 hours, no fewer than five employees of that agency from three separate locations visited this blog after using some of the search tools mentioned above. Whether they were looking for news of their own business or that of their clients’, I don’t know (which is why I didn’t name them in this post)*.

My point? One of the biggest PR agencies in North America monitors the blogosphere because they KNOW what’s said here matters and that they ignore it at their clients’ peril. These days, by the time a blog-broken story hits the mainstream media, it has serious momentum.

A couple more examples: yesterday I also posted a list of companies included in the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Index. Would you like to know how many firms included in that list of 40 are actually monitoring the blogosphere on a regular basis? Two. Intel and Wells Fargo (employees from both firms visited twice).

Monitoring the blogosphere is even more important than having your own corporate blog, it’s the bare minimum. If you don’t know what people are saying about you, how can you respond? If you don’t know how many links there are to your blogs, how do you know how well you are doing, what the awareness level is?

This is one of the biggest reasons we got into this business – other firms are so focussed on the blogging solution, the software, the platform. Hardly anyone is talking about how to teach companies blog communication and technology strategy, making sure they actually know how to work these tools to their advantage.

All the bells and whistles in world ain’t much use if you don’t know how to use ’em.

Update: true to form, three days after I wrote this post, the partnership between Edelman and Technorati was announced – they’re offering a global service to monitor international blogs, which will be available to the public in 2007.

*It is, of course, possible that the PR agency was also monitoring on behalf of some of their other clients on the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Index. Nevertheless, the best-case scenario is that 10% of the companies on that list are monitoring blogs.