MEDIA PROFILE: Business 2.0 now makes readers' success the key toits own

Often linked to the dot-com bust which it ultimately survived, Business 2.0 has had to literally and figuratively reinvent itself. Today, armed with a new editorial focus aimed at helping businesses improve, Julia Hood discovers a magazine that is slowly but surely shedding its tech image.

Often linked to the dot-com bust which it ultimately survived, Business 2.0 has had to literally and figuratively reinvent itself. Today, armed with a new editorial focus aimed at helping businesses improve, Julia Hood discovers a magazine that is slowly but surely shedding its tech image.

Despite having a title that immediately conjures up images of the dot-com boom, the editors of Business 2.0 bristle at the suggestion that it is just a tech magazine. "It's a business magazine that is preoccupied with the way that business people really think today," explains Ned Desmond, editor and president. "I think we are competing with all of the business books, in fact, including Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, and Fast Company."

Business 2.0 did not go the way of The Industry Standard thanks to Time stepping in and buying the title from The Future Network in June 2001.

That August, it was relaunched - amid much media speculation - as a print magazine as well as a website.

Now more than seven months along, the monthly still has to prove itself to a skeptical audience. Desmond and executive editor Adam Horowitz have developed an editorial philosophy that emphasizes looking constantly at the ways businesses are being run. There is still an emphasis on technology's impact on business, but not to the exclusion of a wide range of business stories.

Take the March issue, for example, which features on its cover a photo of former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay with a Pinocchio-like proboscis and beside the headline, "Liar!"

The story evaluates Enron's dishonesty with stakeholders. Supporting the feature is a story offering classic PR advice for dealing with a sudden loss of credibility in the market, which includes quotations from such industry names as Howard Rubenstein and Porter Novelli's Peter Hirsch.

Readers can also go to the website and take a quiz to assess their ability to spot a liar.

Just to give an idea of the breadth of coverage found in Business 2.0, the other contents of the March issue include a first-person account of a "ticket reallocation specialist

(or ticket scalper in the vernacular), a profile of Southwest Airlines' CFO, and a feature on the precarious state of some software companies.

One key feature of some of the most successful articles in Business 2.0 is combining a strong service offering to readers with a good story. Desmond is particularly proud of a piece titled "The seven habits of highly effective dot-coms.

Editorially, the magazine was going where others were not in looking at dot-coms that were actually succeeding in the tough marketplace.

At the same time, it offered insights into the business strategies that made them successful, which other companies could take away with them.

Magazine sections include Start-up, which includes short, news-driven stories on trends, people, and what Horowitz calls, "wild conjecture." There are two recurring columns, Future Boy and Brazen Careerist. The What Works section includes advice, tools and "true life adventures

in the business world, with at least three subsections. These always include e-business, management, and marketing, among other topics. Finally, the Self-Serve section aims to help people "navigate your life and enhance your view,

and includes things like Gadget Watch and Culture Blitz that look at the hot toys and distractions on offer, as well as a humor piece on the back page. March's funny piece, entitled "Irony will write his own damn requiem, thank you very much,

looks at post-September 11 humor.

An e-mail address for pitching story ideas has been dedicated, pitches@business2.com, but don't bother sending ideas in unless they offer real-world insights into business objectives. Horowitz says he gets a lot of pitches for products and services. But unless there is a revolutionary technology on offer, the main aim is to bolster the reader's databank of solutions to problems.

"One thing we really want to see is a sense, borne out by fact, that what these people are pitching us has shown to be effective in the bottom line,

he explains. "We want more than just facts about it. We want who the clients are, who we should talk to at client companies, and cold, hard numbers to back it up. That's one thing that is very important for our readership."

Also consider the website, which has its own editorial content, produced by the same editorial team as the magazine. The site lends itself to expanded treatment of the magazine's coverage. A good resource for PR people, aside from pitching, is the directory of business concepts available on the website. Unified with its search engine, the database includes content from other Time Inc. titles such as Fortune and Money.

The magazine has a circulation of about 550,000 paid subscriptions, and has a relatively high readership demographic in women, with 64% of readers being male and 36% female. "We tend to be read by people who feel like they need to make a difference,

Desmond says. "They crave the kind of insight that we present."

Address: One California St., 29th fl., San Francisco, CA 94111 Tel: (415) 293-4800 E-mail: pitches@business2.com Web: www.business2.com Editor and President: Ned Desmond Executive Editor: Adam Horowitz Managing Editor: James Aley Deputy Managing Editor: Eric Schurenberg ]]>

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