It’s a couple of weeks old now, but this article by Dan Gilmore at CIO Insight is probably one of the best I’ve read about why companies should blog – and how.

The majority of companies spend too much time worrying about unfiltered comments getting out. They should be more concerned with what happens when lawyers, executives and PR/marketing folks get the notion that blogs and other such media are nothing more than a new way to manipulate information. From my perspective, this can lead to an even worse outcome.

In other words, if you fearfully puree your message to the point where it is nothing more than a press release, you’re letting down all of your audiences – customers, employees, suppliers, the community, retailers, investors and the media (and pretty much wasting your time).

Since engagement is the latest marketing buzzword, I have been to conferences where almost no other concept is mentioned. It’s clear that with the crazy media fragmentation we’re experiencing, your consumers can ignore you, so you have to find new ways to get to them. And yet, when presented with a perfect method of direct, two-way engagement, companies get scared. They’re actually afraid of engaging with their customers.

Companies should be embracing conversations with their constituencies. And conversation is, first, about listening, and then about speaking in a human way.

Which we seem to have forgotten – and all that’s left is the irrational fear.