CINCINNATI: Rather than curse a coming plague, the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce has turned it into a PR plan to try and enhance the city's image among young professionals. Beginning in late May, Cincinnati expects to be inundated by as many as 5 billion cicadas, noisy little bugs that appear once every 17 years.
The chamber and YPCincy. com, its young professionals network, have commissioned a CD with original songs about the cicadas by various rock groups. They plan to send the CD, called "Seventeen Year Itch: Mating Songs of Cincinnati USA," to 1,000 journalists.
"We have found the silver lining in the cloud of cicadas," said Raymond Buse III, manager of public relations for the chamber. "Our plan is to give the media the upside of the story. The whole purpose of this is to show that staid Cincinnati is a city with a sense of humor."
The chamber hopes that will help convince young professionals that the city is a good place to live and work.
The chamber has changed its economic-development focus in recent years from trying to coax companies to locate in Cincinnati to trying to bolster the work force, which it hopes will in turn attract new businesses, Buse explained.
The effort also will include weekly music nights during May and June at clubs the chamber will designate cicada escape zones. The cicadas live about six weeks before laying new eggs and dying, their offspring to emerge in another 17 years.
The chamber is also having a study done at the University of Cincinnati on the impact of the cicadas on the local economy - it seems that because the bugs force people indoors, they might actually encourage shopping.
The chamber has been working with local shop Dan Pinger Public Relations to compile its media list.