Case studies / Tribune Publishing

Powering Distribution at the Chicago Tribune

Quick facts:
  • Circulation to over 42 million unique visitors each month via over 220 digital publications including Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Orlando Sentinel. 
  • Tribune Publishing newspapers have won over 88 Pulitzer Prizes, the highest honor in journalism.

Relevant products: Twitter Web Intents  |  Embedded Tweets  |  Twitter Cards


Tribune Publishing is the second largest newspaper publisher in the United States, incorporating over 220 newspapers and websites. Their properties include Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun. In addition to print services, each property also has a large digital publishing arm, with a combined reach of over 42 million unique visitors each month.

For their digital site overhaul, the Chicago Tribune product team was committed to leveraging social media to enable greater distribution of their content. “When we imagined the future of our digital properties, social and mobile were fundamental to reaching the broadest audience possible,” notes Bill Adee, EVP/Digital. "Developing the idea of Twitter Sharelines was one huge step in that direction.” Tribune looked to Twitter to enable this distribution, and began to integrate it deeply into their platform.


One of the key features of their site re-launch was Twitter Sharelines, shareable Tweet-length synopses that appear above the fold on every article. “We wanted to introduce Sharelines as a way to eectively communicate the personality behind a story, in 140 characters or less,” added Chris Strimbu, Director of User Experience and Design. “Giving the user the ability to quickly share up to three dierent views without batting a lash was an easy sell for the newsroom, and a great way to promote social interaction.”

To build the feature, the Tribune product team used Twitter Web Intents to enable the sharing functionality. They also provided custom click targets to ensure the sharing options appear seamlessly within their website design. To ensure a streamlined editorial workflow, the Tribune team incorporated best practices directly into their editorial playbook. Editors are welcome to provide Sharelines for their own stories, or web producers can add them prior to the article going live.

To support further growth, their user acquisition team looked to Twitter Ads to drive more distribution and engagement with their audience. “We love lead generation Cards, and we use them to promote newsletter sign-ups and sweepstakes campaigns,” comments Kozak. Additionally, their team used paid Tweets to drive membership, gain followers and build their audience.

When we imagined the future of our digital properties, social and mobile were fundamental to reaching the broadest audience possible. Developing the idea of Sharelines was one huge step in that direction.

Bill Adee, EVP/Digital, Tribune Publishing


The Tribune team is pleased with the results of integrating with the Twitter platform. “Our Sharelines feature has given our newsrooms a creative way to distribute their content, and authors who compose their own Tweet intents get far more distribution than the average content on our site,” notes Kozak.To track results, they use SimplyMeasured for engagement and distribution reports.

Moreover, Twitter has helped their broader strategy for digital content. “Our organization deeply interconnects our product/audience development teams with each of our local newsrooms. Twitter has helped us grow our distribution and audience on both fronts,” notes Kozak.

Adee concluded, “Sharelines helped us in focusing our newsrooms on a simple question: What makes a great Tweet?"

*Source: based on Sunday circulation in the U.S. (Source: Alliance for Audited Media snapshot analyzer, March, 2014).

We love lead generation Cards, and we use them to drive subscriptions, newsletter sign-ups and even our sweepstakes campaigns.

Lauren Kozak, Senior Manager, Social Media and Community Strategy, Tribune Publishing

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