Tribune creates virtual holiday experience for advertisers in 5 markets

By Laura Strom

Tribune Publishing, Studio 1847

Chicago, Illinois, USA


Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Tribune Publishing Company operates the Chicago TribuneNew York Daily NewsThe Baltimore SunOrlando Sentinel, South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, Virginia’s Daily Press and The Virginian-PilotThe Morning Call of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, and the Hartford Courant. As Christmas 2020 drew near, we knew it would be a holiday season like none other, and we wanted to find ways to help readers capture the spirit of the season.

The challenge to create something new and engaging fell to Studio 1847, the centralised content studio for Tribune Publishing’s nine newspapers. We created an experience called Celebrate the Holidays. 

When Tribune Publishing readers were forced inside by the pandemic, the media company created new ways to celebrate.
When Tribune Publishing readers were forced inside by the pandemic, the media company created new ways to celebrate.

With many Tribune Publishing readers forced indoors because of the pandemic, Celebrate the Holidays was meant to entertain, spread joy, and encourage people to shop local. We gave users a fun, engaging, and easy-to-use platform to shop local (in our gift guide section), be entertained (with kids’ activities and how-to articles for grown-ups), and interact with friends and neighbours (via a virtual photo booth that could be shared). 

Our strategy to create Celebrate was simple: build a site that would work for every market — one that would allow us to drop in content, logos, and more anytime a new client bought in.

First, our designer created an easy-to-navigate design. Next, the ad directors in each market shared the site with their team. Last, our talented reps started selling. As new clients joined in, the Studio content team would write and edit copy and do whatever was needed to make the site robust and exciting.

Internally, we used SharePoint to track progress for every market. We then partnered with our award-winning in-house video team to create a short video to promote the sales efforts.

This was an experiment in a year full of challenges! Since we created this immersive content experience for five different markets, quite a few pivots were necessary over the course of production. Though not all markets were able to sell every section, we kept those portions of the hub in play by convincing some markets to sponsor the section themselves and offer their own prizes.

The Tribune Publishing Celebrate the Holidays campaign was a huge success, bringing in six-digit revenue during Q4, which was also when COVID-19 numbers were spiking. All work was done internally by our small but talented and tenacious staff, so we kept costs down and are exceptionally proud of the results, as are all of our local media partners who participated.

We have decided this will be a new annual feature, and we’ll start selling earlier this year.

About Laura Strom

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