Promotional Spotlight Special Edition: Chestnut Hill Local

Promotional Spotlight Special Edition: Chestnut Hill Local

Chestnut Hill Local considers the long game during COVID-19 crisis

On the afternoon of March 16, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses in Pennsylvania by the end of the week. That same afternoon, John Derr, publisher of Chestnut Hill Local, was on a conference with his board to consider his idea to offer free advertising to all local businesses and delivery of the paper to all homes in Chestnut Hill while seeking sponsors to help defray those costs.  The board responded positively to the idea, but they were unaware that at that same moment the gubernatorial address was taking place.  The governor’s closing of all non-essential businesses rendered the idea irrelevant.  Once the dust settled, the Local pivoted and offered free advertising to the restaurants that remained open.

“The restaurants are in dire need of help and don’t have the money to spend on ads right now,” said Derr.  “And, it’s great content!” Restaurant owners and the community at large have been incredibly appreciative of the initiative.

The Local offers each restaurant a complimentary 2×2 advertisement, even restaurants that have never previously advertised with the publication. “We’re playing the long game,” said Derr. “We have to think to ourselves and consider, ‘How do we behave now in order to shape these relationships after (the crisis)?  How do we use this time to put ourselves in the position to thrive on the other side?’” Derr plans to extend the free advertising offer after the shelter-in-place orders are removed to support local businesses as they reopen to accelerate their recovery.  “I know it’s counterintuitive,” said Derr.

The Local has received positive feedback from restaurants as well as the readers. “A lot of people are looking for restaurants that are open and providing takeout and what their hours are and the know they can find that information in the Local and on our website.” said Derr.

Derr said the COVID-19 crisis exposed weaknesses and important areas of potential growth for a lot of businesses, including The Local, while acting as a catalyst to accelerate certain initiatives, such as a website redesign and e-edition that Derr and his team are working on presently. He also thinks it is important to provide not only his readers, but also his staff, with consistent reassurance about the future and the value of the publication. “First of all, we’re putting out a great product right now and second, we’re still doing all that we intended to do for this year and more,” said Derr. “We’re still moving forward and we’re still planning for the future.”

For more information, contact John Derr at (215) 248-8817 or