Local Business News from American City Business Journals Will Enhance Microsoft bCentral Offerings for Entrepreneurs – Stories

REDMOND,Wash。

Jan。

22,2001MicrosoftbCentralandAmericanCityBusinessJournals(ACBJ),thenationslargestpublisherofmetropolitanbusinessnewspapers,todayannouncedastrategicalliancethatwillbringtogetherinasinglelocationontheInternetthebestoflocalbusinessnewsandvaluableonlinebusinessservicesforsmallbusinesses。

InaconversationwithPressPass,

,vicepresidentofMicrosoftsSmallBusinessDivision,and

,CEOofACBJ,discussedthebenefitsofthisallianceforsmall-businessowners。

PressPass:WhatisinvolvedinthisalliancebetweenbCentralandAmericanCityBusinessJournals?

Hebert:TheagreementcallsforACBJtoprovidelocalbusinessnewsviathebCentralWebsite(www。

bcentral。

com)andforbCentraltoofferitswiderangeofonlinebusinessservicesforsmallbusinessesthroughACBJsWebsite,www。

bizjournals。

com。

Aspartofthisagreement,MSNBC。

com,the#1Internetnewssite,willbecomethepremierproviderofnationalnewsforACBJsWebsite,andACBJwillprovideselectlocalbusinessnewscontenttoMSNBC。

com。

Shaw:WhilebCentralisprovidingtheservicesthatsmallbusinessesneedtobemoreproductive,wellbeprovidingthemwithbreakingnewsandinformationtokeepthemintouchwithwhatsgoingonintheircommunities。

Thevalueofthisrelationshipisprovidingsmall-businessownerswithaone-stopdestinationontheInternettohelpthembuildtheirbusinessesmoreeffectively。

PressPass:Whatledtothisalliance?

Shaw:Microsoftunderstandsthesmall-businessmarketbetterthananybodyelse,soweregladtobeworkingwiththem。

Weviewourselvesasapremiercontentprovideroflocalnews,withourpapersreachingabroadspectrumoflocalsmall-businesspeoplewehaveabout450,000subscribersandatotalreadershipofalmost3million。

WorkingtogetherwithbCentral,wellprovidelocalcontentandleadingservicestothesmall-businesscommunityinanintegrated,alignedfashion。

Hebert:AswehaveworkedtomakebCentralmorerelevantandvaluabletoourcustomers,theirfeedbackhastoldusthatlocal,industry-relevantreportsandbulletinsaresomeofthemostvaluabletoolsfortheirbusiness。

ACBJisclearlyaleaderinthiscapacityifyouvisitasmall-businessownerinalmostanycityintheU。

S。

youllseethatoneofthefirstthingstheyreadistheirlocalACBJ-publishedjournalsoitwasagreatfit。

PressPass:bCentralisalreadytheleadingsmall-businesssiteontheWeb。

HowwilltheadditionalinformationsuppliedbyACBJenhancewhatbCentralprovidestoday?

Shaw:WearegoingtoprovidethelocallegsforbCentral。

Weown40businessjournalsfromSouthFloridatoSeattle,andwehaveabout550journalistsonthegroundcoveringbreakinglocalbusinessnews。

Wesponsormorethan400localeventseachyear,whichbringoutthousandsofkeybusinesspeople。

WearegoingtobringbCentralwithusintotheselocalmarketsandprovidebCentralcustomerswithnotonlyourweeklyarticlesandinformation,butalsodailynewsandinformationregardingspecificindustriesintheirarea。

Hebert:ThroughbCentral,smallbusinesseswillnowgetlocalnewsatnocostandtheoptionofsubscribingforafeetootherdataservicesprovidedbyACBJ,includingarchivesandinformationonreal-estatetransactionsandlocalcourtjudgments。

Forexample,ifyouwereinterestedinstartingapizzabusinessinAustin,Texas,youcouldsearchACBJsarchivesforexactlythekindofinformationyoudneedbeforesettingupshop。

PressPass:Howwillsmall-businessownersbenefitfromandtakeadvantageofthisnewcontentprovidedbyACBJ?

HowwillhavingthisinformationonlineatbCentralbenefitsmall-businessownersmorethanreadingthesamecontentinprint?

Hebert:ItwillbeveryeasyforsmallbusinessestofindlocalnewsaswellasgettoimportantbusinessservicesonbCentral。

TheycaneithergodirectlytobCentral。

com,ortotheirlocalbusinessjournalsite,whichwillbepoweredbybCentral。

Eitherway,itsaone-stopshopofhigh-valuenews,information,andservices。

Eventually,bCentralwillofferuserstheopportunitytoselecttheirpreferredcitytoautomaticallyreceivethatcitystopbusinessheadlinesupdateddailyontheirbCentralhomepage。

Youaskedaboutbenefitsforpeoplewhoworkinsmallcompanies,timeiseverything。

Theeasierwecanmaketheirlivesbysavingthemtime,themoretheyllbenefit。

HavingasingleplaceontheWebtoaccessbusiness-criticallocalinformationaswellaskeytoolsandservicesthathelpownersandmanagersruntheirbusinesseswillmaketheirdaymoreefficient。

ThatisourkeymissionatbCentral。

Whileprintedmaterialisvaluable,onlineinformationofferssomedifferentadvantagesthatwethinkourcustomerswilllike。

First,oursoftwarewillhelporganizethenewsandothertypesofinformationthatACBJprovides。

Forexample,bCentraluserswhoareinterestedininformationaboutspecificbusinessoperations,suchashumanresourcesorfinances,willfindrelevantcontentorganizedbycategoryinaneasy-to-referencedirectoryatwww。

bcentral。

com/directory。

BecausethisinformationcanbedeliveredinthesameplaceontheWebwherecustomersaremanagingcorebusinessprocesses,theycanactoninformationmorequickly。

Forexample,abusinessownerwhosubscribestoourbCentralCustomerManagerservice,whichprovidestoolstohelpthemmanagesalesleadsaswellascustomercommunications,cangotobCentral,findaninterestinglocalbusinessarticlethatacustomermightwanttoread,anduseCustomerManagertofollowupwiththatcustomerandsharethelocalnews,creatingavaluableandtimelycustomertouch。

Ontopofthis,wewillalsoprovidenationalnewsfromMSNBC。

com。

ItwillbedifficulttoduplicatethiskindofcomprehensivecoverageanywhereelseontheWeb。

Shaw:Whenpeopleaskmewhatourbusinessjournalsare,Iusethetagline,

Wearestrictlybusiness,andwearestrictlylocal。

Small-businessownersusethebusinessjournalsfornetworking,salesleadsandprospecting。

Theyalsousethepublicationstofindoutabouteconomicdevelopmentintheirareas。

AsKathleensays,thecombinationofourcontentplatformwiththebCentraltechnologyplatformwillbringalotofbenefitstosmall-businessowners。

Forexample,ifwebundledourBookofListsdata,whichincludesindividuallistsofleadersinover50businessorindustrycategoriesinlocalmarkets,withbCentralCustomerManager,small-businessownerscouldusethedatatofindthebestcustomersfortheirproductsorservices。

AnotheruniquebenefitisthatwhiletheWebisveryglobalinnature,mostsmallbusinessesareverylocal,verymuchapartoftheircommunities。

Small-businessownersareinterestedinnewsandinformationthataffectstheirbusinesses。

Theywanttoknowwhosbuyingthatpieceofpropertydowntheroad,whosmovingintothecommunityandsettingupabusinessthattheymightwanttosellto。

Throughthisalliance,wecancapturethebestofbothworldslocalbusinesscommunityinformationandthepowerofsoftwareserviceswithtremendousscale。

PressPass:WhatpercentageofthecontentintheprintversionwillweseeonlineatbCentral?

Shaw:Currently,about40percentofourcontentisavailableonline,free-of-charge。

Thatcontentalsowillbeofferedfree-of-chargefromthebCentralsite。

Wearemovingtowardmakingallournewsavailableonline。

PressPass:HowwillbCentralcustomersaccesstheinformationsuppliedbyACBJ?

Hebert:Theywillbeabletodooneoftwothings。

First,theyllbeabletogotothebCentralhomepage,selectacityandseealistofheadlinesprovidedbyACBJalongsidenationalheadlinesprovidedbyMSNBC。

comtokeeptheminformedofkeybusinessstoriesthataffectthemonalocalandnationalbasis。

Alternatively,theyllbeabletogotocharlotte。

bCentral。

comorwhatevercitytheyreinterestedinandseealargerlistoflocalnewsstoriesfrombusinessjournals。

Thispartnershipwillenablesmall-businessownerstohaveakindof

windowintotheirbusiness

ontheirdesktoptheirfinances,theircustomers,theirWebsite,theirtrafficandallthelocalnewsthatspertinent。

Picturethis:youreasmall-businessownerworkingonyourfinancesoryourstatsandyoucheckthelocalnewstofindamassivesnowstormheadedyourway。

Youthinktoyourself,

IhadbettermakemoresnowshovelsavailableonmyWebsiteandinmyshop。

PressPass:Inyouropinion,whatsthebestthingaboutthispartnershipbetweenbCentralandACBJ;inotherwords,whatmakesituniqueandwhyisitsignificant?

Shaw:TherealvalueofthisrelationshipisthatMicrosofthasincredibleservicesforsmallbusinessesandwehaveincredibleresourcesforlocalnewsandinformation。

Youputthesetwotogether,andyouhaveavery,verystrongcombination。

Hebert:Thereareover1millionregisteredusersofbCentral,andforthemwhatsgreataboutthisisthattheycanstartgettingthebenefitofACBJscontent,providedbyknowledgeablelocalbusinessjournalists,forfreeaspartofthebCentralexperience。

PressPass:BasedontodaysannouncementofthepartnershipwithACBJ,bCentralseemstohaveevolvedconsiderablyfrombeingamoretraditionalportaltofocusingondeliveringcritical,up-to-the-minutebusinessservicesandinformation。

CanyougiveussomeideaoffuturenewendeavorsthatbCentralwillundertake?

Hebert:WethinkaboutourgoalsforbCentralinseveralways。

First,wereveryclearaboutwhatMicrosoftisgoodat,andthatiscreatinggreatsoftware。

WeexpectbCentraltogrowoverthenextfewmonths,andwellcontinuetomakeannouncementsregardingtheintroductionofnewservices。

bCentralwillbecomethepre-eminentdestinationforsmall-businessownerslookingforgreatsoftwarethatwillmaketheirbusinessesmoreefficientandtheirworkdaysmoreproductive。

Ourotherpriorityismakingsurethatoursoftwareisrelevanttobusinesses。

Itsnotjustaquestionofcreatinggreatsoftware。

Itsasking

Howcanwemakesurethatthesoftwarewecreateisofvaluetotheentrepreneur,everyhourofeveryday。

Inordertoachievethat,wehavetomakeastrongconnectionbetweenthesoftwarethatbusinessownersuseontheirPCsandotherdevicesandthethingstheycareaboutwithintheirbusinesscommunities。

PressPass:HowdoyouthinktheInternethaschangedthewaythatsmall-businessownersruntheirbusinesses?

Shaw:TheInternethasopeneduptremendousopportunitiesforsmallbusinesses,butitalsorequiressmall-businessownerstofocusonmakingsurethattheyarestayingintouchwiththeircorebusiness。

TheInternetexpandsanentrepreneursabilitytolookformorebusiness,anditprovidesanefficientwaytogathernewsandtobuildcommunities。

Butitsadouble-edgedsword。

WehaveheardfromsomeofourcustomerswhoarentawareofthetoolsandservicesavailableontheInternetthattheyneedhelpharnessingitsresources。

Oneoftherolesthatourpublishersfillinthelocalcommunityiseducatingsmall-businessownersabouthowtoruntheirbusinessesbetter,onlineandoffline。


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