Chicago Tribune: Dining Awards
Overview of this campaign
In past years, Chicago Tribune’s Dining Awards has been a small initiative, with the main attraction being a readers' choice voting component. Due to increased engagement with Food & Dining content, in 2017 we decided that the Dining Awards would be the ideal campaign to expand upon, utilizing its popularity to boost engagement with our website, newsletter, and social pages.
We used a phased approach for increasing engagement.
Phase 1: Promote the Food & Dining newsletter as a way to stay up to date on the upcoming awards.
Phase 2: Create awareness that our food critic would be selecting the winners of the Critic’s Choice awards.
Phase 3: Encourage Reader’s Choice voting.
Phase 4: Promote an exclusive awards event where local foodies can meet and try food from the Dining Awards winners.
With each phase, we targeted a specific digital medium. Phase 1 and some of phase 2 encouraged newsletter sign-ups. Phase 2 encouraged views of the Best Restaurants pages on our website while creating awareness of the Critic’s Choice portion of the awards. Phase 3 encouraged voting, which not only drove traffic to the website but also promoted our social channels, with nominated chefs and restaurants reposting from our pages or tagging us to raise awareness of their nominations. Phase 4 took social engagement to the next level, with local foodies snapping selfies with their favorite chefs and using the Dining Awards hashtag.
Each phase was tracked through a unique site, http://www.tribpubchicago.com/dining/, which allowed us to closely monitor consumer engagement throughout all promotional periods while also teasing the next phase and tying in relevant pieces of editorial content.
Results for this campaign
Since it was founded in 1871, the Chicago Tribune has been acutely aware of how serious Chicagoans take their food. Even with this prior knowledge we were not prepared for the immense impact this campaign would have.
In just three months, we acquired 4,405 new emails for the Food & Dining newsletter. While promoting our food critic, his Best Restaurants page on our website received over 84K views—up from 14k four weeks prior. During voting, 95 social posts from award nominees with Chicago Tribune social handles tagged reached over a million people and 30,000 votes were cast. When the award winners were announced, the story page received 40,268 views within two days. In the final phase, the Dining Awards event had 480 attendees, with 75 social video shares, 1,418 snapchat filter views, and over 140k+ local food enthusiasts reached by influential attendees.
Due to the success of the campaign, the Dining Awards is currently being used as a template for other similar initiatives throughout the company and has also led to an increase in food-related events in 2018.