Monthly Archives: August 2015

The CMW Food and Drink Guide to Cleveland

If you’re anything like me, the first step in planning a trip is deciding where to eat. So if you haven’t already developed your Content Marketing World eating agenda, you’re already behind schedule. But it’s ok. I’m here to help.

When Cleveland started to shake off its worn-out rest belt ruins image a few years ago, food was a big part of the transition. In fact, one of our best restaurant neighborhoods only happened because it was a place where chefs could get cheap rent in the early 2000s.

Our restaurant scene rivals any city out there and we have Iron Chef Michael Simon and recent James Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer to prove it.

Now that you’re convinced, let’s talk about some of True’s favorite spots. Let me start by saying, just because something isn’t on the list doesn’t mean we don’t like it. We can only cover so much, so these are just our favorites by proximity to the Convention Center. From near to far, wherever you are – whether you want 4-stars or a cozy bar:

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Downtown/Gateway/Civic Center District – 5 minutes walk south of convention center

This is the heart of downtown. This is where you will see people coming to/from Indians games, shopping, headed to concerts. Make sure you walk around a little bit. See the casino. Check out Tower City.

Nice dinner | East 4th

There are a several great restaurants on East 4th St. This short pedestrian street is as far as a lot of tourists dive into Cleveland’s food scene. All great spots, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. If you’re eating here, my favorites are:

  • Chinato – Outstanding Italian – Far beyond meatballs and red sauce. See what I mean . Chef Zach Bruell is among the best in the city. Of his eight restaurants in Cleveland, this is definitely my favorite.
  • Butcher and the Brewer – Unique setting, great brewery, lots of meat. Think bone marrow apps, lamb ribs and dry-aged beef.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | Barrio

Barrio started as a little taco shop a couple years ago. Now, they have three shops across the city with the recent addition of a downtown location. The big idea: tacos your way. You choose the meats, toppings and sauces on a tear-off ticket and turn it over to the waitress. The only possible mistake is a burst shell due to overstuffing. Recommendation: Opt for the stoner shell. It’s a hard shell fastened to a soft shell with chorizo and queso.

Dessert | Colossal Cupcakes

There are cupcakeries all over this city, but this one stands out. For two reasons: One, amazing cupcakes inventions like s’mores and strawberry french toast. Two, it’s in the 5th St. Arcades – a historic hotel/shopping center hybrid you have to see to believe.

Downtown/Flats – 5 minutes walk west of convention center

Full-disclosure. This is the part of town I eat the least often. There’s a lot of new stuff going in to this part of town right now. There’s also a certain amount of construction. More stuff is constantly opening up so I’m not fully up to date on what’s good here. Please… don’t hold it against me.

Nice Dinner | The Willeyville

This place has a really unique menu. Something for everyone – from a burger to ramen bowls with house-made noodles. They describe their food as “handcrafted” and they mean it. If it can be made in-house, it is.

Drinks | Portside Distillery

This place is becoming one of my favorite breweries in Cleveland. You can find a few of their beers throughout the city, but the pub-exclusives are top-notch. Not the type of place to rage until 2 a.m., but a great place for a quiet beer.

Ohio City – $5 Uber West

This is still Cleveland. I only state this because the question always comes up. Ohio City is a little walkable neighborhood just west of downtown with some of the best bars and nightlife in the city. If that’s not enough, there are three breweries less than a 5-minute stumble apart. But on the food side, there are a few standouts.

Nice dinner | Black Pig

Expertly prepared French-inspired food. I have never had a bad meal at the place. From daily pastas to short ribs to some of the most adventurous charcuterie in the city. As one of the better seasonal menus in the city, you can pretty much shut your eyes and point and end up with an amazing meal.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | ABC the Tavern

Don’t be alarmed by The Misfits playing on the jukebox. This is some of Cleveland’s best food served out of paper boats. Daily specials, lamb quesadillas and atomic dogs (split hotdog, stuffed with jalapenos, wrapped in bacon, deep-fried, finished with Sriracha aioli – enough said).

Drinks | Nano Brew

Originally it was a pretty small space, but “Nano” brew has taken over adjoining real estate. They still specialize in nano (smaller than micro) batches of beer. Beyond house beers, there’s a great selection of crafts. Also, the rooftop patio has an unbeatable view of downtown.

Dessert | Mitchell’s

The word’s “Mitchell’s” and “ice cream” are synonymous to a lot of Clevelanders. Great seasonal flavors. Plus, the Ohio City shop has a full view of their state-of-the-art kitchen so you can see where the magic happens.

Tremont | $5 Uber South

Remember that thing I mentioned about the food neighborhood with the cheap rent? This is it. It is nearly impossible to have a bad meal in Tremont. In its rise to Cleveland food stardom, the cheap rent thing is no longer true, but it is chalk full of great restaurants.

Nice dinner | Lolita

A lot of people would disapprove of leaving Iron Chef Micheal Simon’s Lola out of the Downtown East 4th section, but I’m a big fan of his original place in Tremont. Much more intimate and laid back. All great food, but he has the best prosciutto in the city and his fried Brussels sprouts are always a crowd pleaser.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | Edison’s Pub and Pizza

Cleveland is not a city known for its pizza. That said, this place makes the meanest, greasiest, tastiest slice of pizza in the city. Sometimes I go out to dinner in Tremont and end up at Edison’s having pizza and a beer for dessert. Yes, I know I have a problem.

Drinks | The Spotted Owl

I’m not a huge fan of craft cocktails, but this place does it right. It’s in the basement of an old university turned swanky apartments. We’re talking exposed brick, stained glass and a classic lounge feel. A craft cocktail is mandatory in a place like this. These guys go far beyond your standard sazerac and old fashioned for some truly unique cocktails.

You can’t go wrong with any of the above choices. And as always, if you have any questions, or need more recommendations of what to do during your time in Cleveland, tweet us @TrueDigitalCom and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!



Google Trends: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks


I’m often asked by other communications friends what digital marketing tools I’d recommend for them. It’s a fair question. I do work for a very good digital marketing firm. Shameless plug I know. And we do use some really cool tools every day. Some are free and others are very expensive. I do pay the bills here. There are so many wonderful tools that make us smarter, faster and more insightful. The key here is finding ones that are simple to use and easy to engage with throughout a busy workday.

One of my favorites is Google Trends. It’s tools like this one that make me sound really smart in client meetings. Who am I kidding? And cocktail parties too. Google Trends is a searchable tool that allows you to determine how much interest there is in a topic by showing past and current search behavior. You may remember that Google first tested its Trends tool by predicting the severity of the flu in the U.S. a few years ago by tracking searches regarding flu-related topics. I don’t even like to search for the flu on Google. Since then, Google Trends gave the flu its own site. So hypochondriacs all over the world can decide if they want to ever leave their homes again?

While the data science isn’t exact, it does provide interesting and useable data that can be filtered by time, geography and by Google search features like news, images, shopping, YouTube and other key categories.

Is Google Trends perfect? Far from it. Is anything perfect other than a sunrise or the sound of a baby’s laugh? Our search engine marketing and analytics team refers to Google Trends as Google Adwords Keyword Planner for Dummies. I’m never sure if they’re serious or just making fun of me?

Give Google Trends a try. It’s easy to use and provides a quick report on the relevance of a specific or related topics. We’ve used it when developing key messages for clients and when determining marketing angles. And at cocktail parties when people ask me if I’m on Facebook all day.


5 Easy Ways To Tackle Your Inbox

Does your email inbox make you want to pull your hair out? Does it immediately cause you anxiety when you log on in the morning?  (Maybe avoiding it at all costs, for that matter!)  Or do you find yourself constantly checking your inbox when you get a notification of a new email? We’ve all been there. But the challenge is to find a solution that will help you hate your inbox less, and instead embrace the power you will feel when you take control of the situation! Following some (or all) of the following tips for tackling your inbox:

1. Turn off email alerts: I know- call me crazy. But having little bubbles pop up alerting me of new emails in real-time is enough to cause a panic attack. When the notifications become nuisances and takes me away from my task at hand, it’s counter-productive. Yet, without fail, I have to check it. So, my suggestion- simply turn off the alert feature. Schedule times to check your email throughout the day- it’s a much more productive use of your time!

2. Keep mails short: Let’s face it- no one wants to read a long email. I try to keep my emails to under 5 sentences to help save my time, and the recipient’s time! If an email needs to be longer than 5 sentences, my thought is that a phone call is probably best anyway.

3. Take an email break: If you have a deadline or a huge project that needs your undivided attention- I highly suggest turning on your vacation response with a simple note to say you are away from your computer for the day. (Even if you’re actually still on it.) I also suggest giving a phone number for absolute emergencies- but this will do the trick if you really need to focus.

4. Unsubscribe to pointless subscriptions: Everyone has subscribed to emails, but do you really find them beneficial? If you answered no, Unroll me is your solution. All you do is sign up, check out the list of your subscription emails and unsubscribe from the ones that no longer serve you. Similarly, this feature can also solidify all of your subscriptions you find useful into one convenient email a day.

5. Color coding: Last, but certainly not least- color coding your inbox. This is my personal favorite and I have been doing this for years (even though my co-workers think I’m crazy.) But once you get a system in place, it really is the most effective thing I’ve found that works for me. Each of my clients have a specific color and as soon as I receive an email, I label it accordingly. Similarly, I will move any particular email to it’s designated folder once I have responded and taken care of what is needed.

So, there you have it! My top 5 tips for making your email inbox more manageable! Do you have any other tips that aren’t on the list? I’d love to hear them!