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Newsweek put Grand Rapids, Michigan on a list of 10 dying cities and the city has chosen to use YouTube to say, “We are alive and kicking!” Roger Ebert has called it the “greatest music video ever made” and the lip dub video of American Pie has drawn nearly 1.5 million hits. So, here it is:

While I am not sure about the greatest music video accolade, I think it is an impressive feat technologically and as a marketing campaign. A one-shot ten-minute video that makes the point that this is a thriving and vibrant community that challenges the dying verdict with a certain panache! It is interesting to note that Newsweek has tried to distance itself from the article by saying that it was an article posted by content sharing arrangement with another website (Main Street).

SEO wisdom states that “Top 10 Lists” and “5 Important Facts” types of articles get a lot of traffic and draw a lot of links. This news story and the reactions are a reminder that reducing things to lists often distorts the picture. However, it is interesting to note that Grand Rapids has also understood the rules of this game of drawing an audience; the video’s promotion and Ebert’s critical endorsement is perfectly packaged to make us click to see the other side of the story. Way to go, Grand Rapids!

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