Problem = Limited content engagement

Solution = Multi-phased, web-based promotion of food initiatives


Chicago Tribune’s Food & Dining section


Senior Creative Director, User Experience Designer, Visual Designer, Lead Developer

Skills & Services
  • User Experience Design
  • User Interface Design
  • Wireframing
  • User Flows & Journeys
  • Creative Direction
  • Visual Design
  • Custom CMS Development (WordPress)

HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, PHP, WordPress, SEO


INMA: Best Idea to Grow Digital Readership or Engagement

Project Description

Chicago Tribune’s Food & Dining section includes highly-regarded restaurant reviews, sought-after seasonal recipes and authoritative cooking stories from columnists.

For years, the only content engagement was the Readers’ Choice Awards where people voted on food-related categories. That was our starting point to create an online hub for promoting multiple food initiatives throughout the year. I lead the creative team, collaborated on strategy and provided all web development.

01 05

Multi-phased Engagement Strategy

With the continued popularity of the Food & Dining content in previous years, it made sense to expand engagement for the web environment, newsletter and social channels. We created a 4 phase strategy to build awareness for the upcoming Chicago Tribune Food & Dining content and exclusive event.

Phase 1

Promoted the Food & Dining newsletter as a way to stay up to date on the upcoming awards.

Phase 3

Encouraged Reader’s Choice voting.

Phase 2

Created awareness that our food critic, Phil Vettel, would be selecting the winners of the Critic’s Choice awards.

Phase 4

Promoted an exclusive awards event where local foodies can meet and try food from the Dining Awards winners.

02 05

Phase 1: The Tease

Building awareness for upcoming editorial content and awards was the goal. By building viewership early, the result was more return users to the web environment through later phases in anticipation of the awards season. We crafted a creative campaign that connected with the emotional side of experiencing and enjoying great food. The campaign consisted of 4 message variations and a landing pages to help keep a fresh narrative as these would continue to run through all phases.

03 05

Phase 2 & 3: The Big Push

The full website launched during phase 2. It continued to promote users to sign up for the Food & Dining newsletter, but also aggregated a ‘best of’ collection of editorial articles. By surfacing both new and old articles, it helped to drive traffic to content that would normally be lost within the news archive. We also encouraged views of the Best Restaurants pages on our news website while creating awareness of the Critic’s Choice portion of the awards.

Phase 3 encouraged voting, which 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.

04 05

Phase 4: The Awards Event

During this phase we took social engagement to the next level, with local foodies snapping selfies with their favorite chefs and using the Dining Awards hashtag. The event was another opportunity to create an onsite connection with users and the brand.

05 05

Campaign Success & Guide For Future Initiatives

In three months, the company acquired 4,405 new emails for the Food & Dining newsletter. While promoting our food critic, his Best Restaurants page 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. 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.

With the success of this campaign, the Dining Awards became the template for other similar initiatives throughout Chicago Tribune and has also led to an increase in food-related events.


New Emails Collected


Votes Were Cast


Views in 3 Months