Chicago Tribune’s Hyper-Hyper-Local Push

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 “” to “,” you can learn more about it here at

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 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.


The River Forest Citizen Corps Wants YOU

Last week, I had the honor of writing and distributing a news release on behalf of my friend, Jim Flanagan.

It bears the headline, “River Forest Citizen Corps Seeks to Educate, Enlist Volunteers for Emergency Preparedness.”

Over the past year or so, Jim has led a group of volunteers who have poured their time and energy into bracing for times of crisis. Special heads-up for those of you who reside in River Forest, there are two meetings later this month (Sept. 23 and Sept. 25) that will provide more details.

On a separate note, to learn a bit about how Jim serves those approaching or in retirement, through Bentron Financial Group, there is also a recent post about a free seminar that Jim is presenting on Oct. 2 in Lisle.

Related Posts:
‘Packing for Retirement’ & Beyond: Jim Flanagan’s Passion to Help Older Adults
Don’t Wait ’til News Breaks–Anticipate the Break, Break Through With Coverage

Home Insulation Tips Expand Comfort Zone

One of the cool things about working with a variety of clients is that it stretches me well beyond my comfort zone. Really, a more apt word than “comfort” might be “familiarity”: it’s not so much that I’m initially uncomfortable with a given industry, or topic within that industry, as I am largely clueless about it.

In the process of being thrust beyond my comfort, or familiarity, zone, I gradually expand what is comfortable, or familiar, to me.

A recent case in point: talking with Scott Grafft (pictured) of EnergyMen to gather enough raw material to write a news release about home insulation, on behalf of EnergyMen, the company that Scott and Gary Quateman operate.

The Chicago-based firm personifies its work as “Home Comfort Heroes” as EnergyMen helps homeowners transform their abodes into energy-efficient shape.

I am not handy around the house–I have trouble locating the toolbox, let alone figuring out why my wife is asking me to grab a wrench that some guy named Allen apparently left behind years ago.

But in time, through working with EnergyMen, I am confident that I’ll at least be able to start talking a good house game. You can see the news release, “Home Insulation: 3 Keys to Energy Efficiency,” at

Oh, and one last thing: Allen, if you’re out there somewhere, drop me a line and we’ll figure out a way to get this wrench back into your hands.

Merging Content Opens Story-Telling Avenues

When Dr. Richard Powell sees a new patient in pain, he can empathize perfectly: that was how he first encountered the world of chiropractic.

So starts a recent Inside Edge PR news release on behalf of Dr. Richard Powell of HealthSource of Elmhurst.

The rest of the release, headlined “His Pain Leads To Others’ Gain: Elmhurst Chiropractor Marks 25 Years of Helping Patients,” blends a biography that I developed about Dr. Powell as well as excerpts from testimonials that I wrote about two of his patients.

The outreach reflects the power of re-purposing individual story-telling elements–regardless of industry–into a new piece targeted to a different audience.

Here, Dr. Powell’s bio and the two patients’ stories are geared mostly toward an internal audience, such as existing and new patients. When combined and edited, however, they can speak to an external audience, such as local media outlets.

Related Posts:
The Re-Purpose of PR: Maximize News Value
In media relations, throw ’em an occasional curve: fastball pitches go nowhere fast


Public Service, Pics Drive Five Seasons’ Outreach

Remarkable athletes, accomplished coaches, fund-raising programs and family-friendly activities.

Since 2007, those broadly stated categories have formed the bulk of stories that I’ve shared as publicist for the two Five Seasons Family Sports Clubs in the Chicago area (Burr Ridge and Northbrook).

But last week represented a new opportunity to raise awareness about the Burr Ridge site at 6901 S. Madison, as Five Seasons hosted water rescue training for the Tri-State Fire Protection District. At, you can see the news release, which went to a variety of other local media outlets as well.

In light of photographs’ supremely vital role in drawing attention, I also created a photo gallery.

Something to keep in mind when posting photos: it’s not enough to simply slap up a bunch of images. The more descriptive captions you can offer–such as the names of individuals in the photos–the more likely the media will use the photos in other formats, such as the old-fashioned print version.

Related Posts:
PR on a Five Seasons’ Fitness Turn-Around
Pick up the Phone, Break Away from PR Pack