Tribune Going Local With Blog Nets
Bloggers include former White Sox pitcher Jack McDowell, Miss Illinois 2009 Ashley Bond, auctioneer Leslie Hindman, hometown socialite Candance Jordan.
About 4,000 users already have registered for profiles on the site, which has been in beta since late May, and which attracted over 500,000 unique monthly visitors and 1.2 million page viewers in July.
To promote the network, which is anchored by the Chicago Tribune, Tribune Co. tapped Toronto-based zig to execute a cross-channel campaign -- including print, radio and online ads, along with events and various other efforts. In one instance, a stack of cars was piled up outside a Chicago Cubs game along with a sign reading, "Call me crazy, but I think Chicago needs more parking."
"The marketing centered around opinions," said Kathleen Mersman, communication coordinator for Tribune Media Group. "This approach really reflected the topical, engaging and authentically Chicago content that can be found on ChicagoNow."
In addition, a "chalk blog" was created in Chicago's busy Pioneer Court using 40 eight-foot boards spread throughout the courtyard, which posed some provocative questions ("What will the Olympics do for this city?") for passersby for answer.
Beyond Chicago, The Tribune Co.'s plans for additional local blog networks has yet to be outlined.
"Each market makes its own decisions about what products to launch or expand, so I can't really speculate on whether a product like ChicagoNow will be expanded into our other markets," said a spokesman for Tribune Co.