Innovation in Focus: San Francisco Chronicle

One of the highlights of the June 18-20 San Francisco regional Innovation Mission is a visit to the San Francisco Chronicle. This in-depth meeting will focus on transformation strategies and new audience and revenue opportunities, led by VP Digital Sales Ginger Neal and other Chronicle senior leaders. The Chronicle (and its parent, Hearst) is among the most progressive local media companies in our ecosystem. The visit will not only spotlight emerging opportunities that the Chronicle is pursuing, but also give attendees an inside look at the company’s strategy and processes for making new investments and driving large-scale change.

Here’s a sampling of some of the Chronicle’s most compelling growth initiatives, with links to additional resources and reading.

Aggressive Experimentation with Audio: Podcasting & Smart Speakers

The stated goal: “to become a leader in local audio publishing for selected categories.” The Chronicle’s “Spoken Edition” features short-form content across five different categories distributed to all major voice assistant platforms. In total, 80+ audio stories per week! Its podcasting network focuses on key local verticals such as startup technology and politics. All audio content carries multi-platform monetization opportunities that enable brands to reach captive audience “on-site, in-ear, and in-home.” For more, see Ginger Neal’s audio presentation at the recent Mega-Conference.

Successful Vertical Site Launches

Many of the most compelling digital and local media content experiences – with large connected revenue streams – involve building out niche content experiences that draw in deeply loyal audiences. The Chronicle has seen success with verticals, namely its NoCal Brewery Map, an interactive search and discovery experience with 250+ breweries, and Green State, a website, email newsletter and print quarterly covering the legal marijuana industry.

Membership Model to Complement Paid Subscriptions

So many local media companies are tinkering with subscriptions and toying with the idea of membership models. The Chronicle is successfully bundling the two, with a diverse set of member benefits rolled into its subscription programs. Member perks range from exclusive events to VIP access to museums, concerts, and more, plus locals-only discounts.

For more on the upcoming visit to the SF Chronicle, and other SF Innovation Mission highlights, check out the agenda here.