If you are interested in participating in the MISS. UNDERSTOOD project and having your work or the work of your students featured on our site, email LaReeca Rucker, support journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi, at for more information.

BACKGROUND: Mississippi is a state that some perceive negatively because of its past and present. Mississippi often ranks 50th in many categories, and many Mississippians have a love/hate relationship with the state for this reason. But Mississippi is not one-dimensional, and neither are its people. There are many layers, and some are positive, beautiful and unique.

CHALLENGE: You’ve just been hired as the new head marketing director for the State of Mississippi. You are asked to come up with new ideas and create a small marketing campaign designed to present the state in a new light, reveal something about it that others may not know, or re-imagine what the word “Mississippi” means. What suggestions would you offer your boss, and what steps would you take to launch this campaign?

DIRECTIONS: Students are asked to write a three-page, double-spaced paper. Each of the following steps should be one page.

STEP 1: Write about your own perceptions of Mississippi. We listened to a TED Talk about the idea of a “single story” and a NPR story in class during which one University of Mississippi student shared his thoughts about the state. What are your thoughts? How do you think the state is perceived by others including your friends and strangers who live elsewhere? Have you ever had any personal experiences that relate to Mississippi’s perceptions? How do you think the media portrays Mississippi? Is it accurate? Inaccurate? What are your thoughts?

STEP 2: Research your topic. Google “marketing campaigns” as a first step to get ideas. Ask others about their perceptions of Mississippi? What did they say? Ask others their thoughts about what you could do for your campaign to get input from others. Come up with an idea that you could do for your marketing campaign. What is the campaign’s name? What is its purpose? How will you execute it? Will you use social media, write a press release, write a news story, make a video, speak to classes and groups, create a website? Be creative.

STEP 3: Results. What were the results of your campaign? Even if they were small, tell us what they were? Did you get any response or feedback? Do you feel like you got your message across? In retrospect, what would you have done differently? If you had more time, how would you suggest developing your campaign to reach others statewide? What are some of your ideas? And as a final question, what did you learn about state perceptions from the project?