In the next step of NBC Local Media's hyperlocal brand strategy, NBC Local Integrated Media officially launched Wednesday (July 29) the commercial versions of its 10 city Web sites, powered by the company's 10 owned-and-operated NBC stations in the nation's top markets. In beta since October 2008, the city Web sites were conceived as an alternative to the typical TV Web site that serves as an extension of the on-air TV brand.
The approach seemed to work. Unique visits to the city Web sites increased from 5 million last October to 20 million in June 2009.
Offering lifestyle, entertainment and news, the redesigned and enhanced city Web sites have only an oblique reference to their NBC affiliation in the upper lefthand corner of the home page, though "NBC" still leads off the Web address, i.e., www.nbcchicago.com and www.nbcla.com. As part of the official launch, city sites invite visitors to interact and engage with the site by contributing content and registering their emotions about particular stories and events. Content can be shared easily on Twitter and Facebook.
"This is an exciting step in the 'Locals Only' brand strategy," said Brian Buchwald, senior vp of NBC Local Integrated Media, the digital division of the NBC Local Media Group. "Our beta focused on the cities themselves, creating an online source of information for the true city insider. Our next phase focuses on the communities behind those cities, giving our users a voice and creating a platform that is a true reflection of our local residents."
To execute its city Web site strategy, NBC Local Integrated recently assembled a new team under Gregory Gittrich, vp of content and editor in chief. Among the new recruits are: Jenna Briand, former director of programming and editor in chief of AOL City Guide; Steve Bryant, former New York editor of Thrillist; Laurel Pinson, former online editor at Lucky magazine; Jessica Sick, former editor of the Miami Herald's Miami.com; Owen Thomas, former managing editor of Valleywag; and Gregory Wilson, former deputy news editor at the New York Daily News.