Chicago Tribune expands local footprint

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Chicago Tribune Publishing Group has expanded its Triblocal community portal and will begin reverse-publishing two new print editions of Triblocal in March.

The 13 new online portals bring the total number of Triblocal sites to 21, each focusing on an individual neighborhood in the Chicago suburbs. Once the sites become established in the communities, Tribune publishes the locally-contributed content as printed inserts in the weekend Chicago Tribune. Printed Triblocals are also distributed at community events and in public areas.

“Part of our strategy was to grow our audience in the suburbs outside of Chicago,” Jane Jansen, general manager of Triblocal.com, said. “Part of business is having to grow in ways we haven't before, getting people to post content, really going after the advertisers in small and medium size businesses that we don't typically get in the Tribune and increasing the subscription base.”

Focus communities for Triblocal are chosen based on schools, shopping, population growth and number of subscribers to the Chicago Tribune. Jansen said the core audience for the localized inserts is “frenzied families” and others interested in the local stories, photos and event listings included in each edition.

“Citizens post content that is relevant to them, and, so far, consumers have really been engaged,” she added.

The company has purchased billboards and is using online ads to increase awareness of Triblocal. It also sends a twice-monthly e-newsletter to registered online readers.

Tribune Publishing Group is targeting small and midsize businesses for much of the advertising in Triblocal. Ad packages across multiple Triblocal editions are being offered to larger companies trying to link themselves more closely to specific communities.

Thirty-five Triblocal microsites and eight print editions are expected to be on the market by the end of this year, for a total circulation of 120,000.

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