Cleveland: City promoters cope with bad publicity

6:44 PM, Jul 23, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Once again, all of America is reading about, watching and listening to an ugly story of violence against women originating in or near Cleveland.

The East Cleveland murders linked to Michael Madison join similar episodes involving Anthony Sowell and Ariel Castro.

The media operates in a way where the bad overshadows or drives out more positive stories.

Cleveland boosters have been working hard to promote all the progress, new projects and heartening developments in the community.

So what should their strategy be in the wake of another dose of unwanted negative publicity?

Media strategist Alan Melamed heard derogatory comments about the latest bad news from a cab driver on an out-of-town trip.

His advice? Stay on message.

"It's like a brushfire on the side of the road...It's going to burn itself out. ..Somebody raises a question or makes a snarky little comment and then we go on because we've got a real story to tell...we've done great things and are really moving forward, " he said.

At Positively Cleveland, they encourage and monitor stories about visiting and moving to Cleveland.

Positively Cleveland's David Gilbert said, "There really isn't much we can do about this. It happens."

The East Cleveland story is unfolding while 35,000 athletes and visitors are visiting town for the Senior Games.

Gilbert hopes they would leave here as ambassadors waxing enthusiastically about their wonderful visit.

He calls the events "tragic."

"We haven't heard there's anybody decided not to make the trip because of what's happening...It takes nothing away from how sad those events are. But in many ways, they are unrelated to the travel and tourism experience."

This is apparently a delicate subject in some circles.

Five consultants, groups or officials concerned with Cleveland's image and public relations either declined to comment for this story or did not respond.

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