By: Nu Yang
When the San Francisco Chronicle launched its newly-combined Food+Home section this summer, it was a way for the newspaper to showcase the unique Bay Area lifestyle with the best of local cuisine. The new section combines the previously separate Food and Wine and Home and Garden sections. Together, the new section creates a 16-page lifestyle section that explores trends and news in food, wine, entertaining, gardening and home design.
“Once we made the decision to create the new section, we worked with our creative director to develop ideas about how food, wine, home and garden coverage could be connected together,” said Kitty Morgan, assistant managing editor for lifestyle. “Many lifestyle magazines merge this content beautifully; we wanted to bring that to the newspaper.”
New section features include expanded restaurant coverage, new writers and freelancers, and exclusive recipes from local food community members.
“We wanted to build on the already successful, award-winning section, but bring a more visual, modern sensibility to the pages,” Morgan said. “We hoped that our current readers would find lots to love in the new section, but that we could also bridge over to the next generation of readers.”
On the sales side, Morgan said the new section has “opened doors for (them) at higher end brands as well as enabled (them) to enter into new categories.”
“Additionally, we’re excited as the new section evolves digitally as this enables us to play with more creative ad executions and videos,” she said.
The paper also created formal partnerships with BloomThat and Charish.com, and introduced “influencer salons” with high-profile chefs and restaurateurs. Morgan said each event had about a dozen attendees.
Concurrently, the paper introduced a new charitable program, “San Francisco Chronicle Gives Back,” to help promote and bring awareness to non-profits in the community and its businesses.
“The San Francisco Chronicle has always been deeply involved with local philanthropy,” said Kristine Shine, president. “Recently, we were involved with a number of charitable events that made us think about how we could use the newspaper as a vehicle for further positive change.”
To launch the program, the paper donated a full-page print ad to each of the restaurants on the 19th annual Top 100 Bay Area restaurants guide. Each of the 100 ads provided an opportunity for the restaurants to promote their charity’s upcoming fundraising events, highlight a specific cause or campaign, or build awareness for their charity of choice. The collection of ads represented an in-kind donation totaling more than $1.5 million.
Looking ahead, Morgan said the paper plans to do research in the coming months to see how the new Food+Home section is working out, but she understands the category’s importance to the paper’s audience.
“While national publications and leaders like The New York Times do a great job with this kind of content, no one but the Chronicle can make it hyper-local,” she said. “We can nail these categories for our readers.