What’s next, URLs by the block?

Sure, “hyper-local,”  as a way of describing the trend in journalism toward coverage centered on ever-smaller geographic areas, has been overused in recent years. But I can’t help but think that the Chicago Tribune, some four years after launching TribLocal to up the media market’s ante in the suburbs, has designs to go hyper-hyper-local.

That’s a simple conclusion to reach on the heels of learning that the company has secured 334 domain names that consist of as many community, neighborhood or otherwise-geographically specific sites–all with “tribune” at the tail end of the name.

From “addisontribune.com” to “ziontribune.com,” you can learn more about it here at Fusible.com.

When I began covering Hinsdale in 1999, at the start of a six-year run as a freelance reporter for the Tribune–I quickly recognized that geography was sometimes a decisive factor in whether I would be able to secure an assignment.

So over time, to broaden my ability to feed extra mouths that came along in the Baron brood, I expanded my reporting domain to cover three communities. (Well, two communities–Oak Brook and Elmhurst–and one larger-than-life journalist’s shooting-fish-in-a-barrel dream for unearthing corruption and incompetence–that would be Cicero, even post-Betty Loren-Maltese.)

With its domain-name shopping spree, the Tribune is likely taking the same course, only on a macro level by leveraging its resources to provide for its hoped-for larger kingdom. Among other rivals, the company is facing a strong push by AOL-backed Patch.com throughout the Chicago area (a.k.a. “Chicagoland,” a term first coined by the Tribune in 1926).

Regardless of how this plays out, the simple act of securing those URLs reinforces one of my principal pieces of counsel to clients: don’t rely solely on swinging for the fences (major media market coverage).

Hitting home runs is great–and it only makes sense to go for them when you have the chance. But the bulk of your success will flow from getting very good at identifying multiple, smaller markets where you can tell your story over and over again in a way that is relevant to each sub-market.


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