So you’re writing something about Cleveland. Naturally, you want people to read what you’re writing about Cleveland. But they don’t have to necessarily care about what you’re writing, or even read it, so much as reflexively feel the need, based on a set of simple criteria – headline, boostertastic language, pictures of blight, celebrity mentions, listicle formatting – to share that shit, nakedly begging for likes on Facebook or blindly retweeting the article on Twitter as to appear an informed citizen who is proud of their city. This is alternately called journalism and unpaid public relations.
But how do you do that?
Easy. Let us show you.
1. Don’t go writing about real stuff. Ever try to get people interested in reading about what a shamterrific scammy boondoggle it is for the county to fund a Hilton hotel that will be connected to the convention center? Or talk about math. Whoa man, you’re making my thinky place hurt talking about city council meetings. Give me BROWNS COMMENT OF THE DAY.
2. Do write about grand plans that have zero chance of happening. The crazier, the better. Want to shut down Public Square and make it a park? People will dig it, though it’s unfunded and impractical. Want to have skylifts moving people on cables through downtown? Sounds like a monorail to us, but people will go bonkers. Just find one person with a batshit idea and go with it. How about trapeze artists delivering Slyman’s to office windows? Bam. What about an aquarium in the Flats? (Oh, that’s not a PetSmart down there?)
3. Michael Symon.
4. Put Cleveland in the damn headline. Ohioans as far south as Mansfield consider themselves Clevelanders, so it works a lot better than Northeast Ohio or Cuyahoga County. Saying Cuyahoga County only makes people imagine Jimmy Dimora’s FUPA. Also, putting Cleveland on anything makes it sellable. For example, buy an empty bottle, buy some whiskey you didn’t make and slap Cleveland on the front. Boom. Collector’s item and sucker’s bet.
5. Choose the right hashtag carefully. No one is searching #Cleveland on Twitter. Opt for #HappyinCle or #Windians or #SharonReedsBoobs, however, and you’ll get immediate, unthinking traction.
6. Christmas Ale.
7. Mention a new restaurant or store where you can buy food, whether it’s some new joint from Jonathon Sawyer or breaking news that your corner gas station now has spicy fried chicken in addition to regular. The "foodie" label was the best thing to ever happen to fat Midwest kids.
8. Talk about something that happened a long time ago. Cleveland loves nostalgia. And the only thing better than free beer and flannels dispensed by the mash-up Unique Thrift/Sam McNulty beer-clothing truck that’ll park itself on the closed-off Public Square park is anything that happened on Public Square 40 years ago. Bonus points if it involved balloons.
9. Include a shareable picture of the Cleveland skyline. Residents, we’ve learned, oftentimes forget what it looks like and like to be reminded while sitting in their cubicles.
10. Have your article run in a publication not based in Cleveland. You really want Cleveland to share the shit out of your piece? Publish it in another state. They love nothing more than feeling good that someone who doesn’t live here thinks it’s not horrible. Somewhere around 95% of the traffic from stories about Cleveland in out-of-state publications comes from Cleveland-area readers. True story. Hell, start a website called LoveDecaturDontBeaHater.com and write about how cool your trip to East Fourth was and see for yourself. Include a picture of East Fourth too. That never gets old to Clevelanders.
11. Cleveland Browns.
12. Combine the themes of Rust Belt blight and Rust Belt Renaissance. There are some 192,000 vacant properties in Cleveland -- a real boon to the ruin-porn photographer industry and heroin addicts. Readers like to see pictures of these places they'll never go and that, with no money in the city budget, will never be torn down. This pattern of urban sprawl and economic neglect is somehow thought of as a positive for the city by people living in cookie-cutter cul-de-sac homes in Solon, and those are the people with super-fast DSL hookups who can really drive internet traffic.
Take these easy steps into consideration the next time you write about Cleveland and you will be golden. We'll see you on the other side of that Twitter favorite button.
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