CYBERCRITIQUE: Local newspaper savvy to court former residents

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MARKETER: Metrotimes.com

WHERE TO FIND IT: Newcity Network (newcity.com)

CRITIQUE: Web sites for local newspapers long have been a great way to bring a community together online and generate classified revenue. But there is a market to which local papers -- often thinking too locally -- should reach out: ex-patriates. The online world, having no local borders, allows them to tap a whole new segment.

Take, for example, this Cyber Critique staffer who grew up in the Motor City. Detroit is the home of many great landmarks: Tiger Stadium (oops, too late); the Wonder Bread factory (oops, too late); the original Ford plant (oops, too late). Well, it used to be the home of many great landmarks. When we left, it was home to one of the most depressed and depressing shells of a former downtown this nation has to offer.

But metrotimes.com, the site for Metro Times, the mainstay of Detroit's free alternative weekly papers, chose an ideal media buy in running a great banner across a network of similar papers from other cities. The ad does two things: It appeals to the ex-pat with its "Got out of Detroit?" message. Home, in the truest "Born to Run" sense, is the place we fled. Then it invites former residents to catch up on events in their onetime stomping grounds.

Who among us isn't a sucker for stories about back home? In this case, the truth is that there are a lot of positive things going on in Detroit these days and now we know where to go to read about them. Because of this banner, we wound up at the alternative paper, not The Detroit News or Detroit Free Press. That's because the newspaper's online arm is acting locally while realizing there's a much larger world out there to reach.

WHO CREATED IT: In-house.

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