By Jon Matrick
Mississippi has many good and bad things that are associated with the state. Unfortunately, the bad things are mostly what are seen on television or in national newspapers.
History is not wrong in saying Mississippi had very outspoken racists who fought Supreme Court decisions, such as the integration of schools. History is also not wrong that the state was so backward, the University of Mississippi was riotous when the first African American student James Meredith enrolled. However, it seems like these terrible things are all people see or know about Mississippi.
My girlfriend’s sister and cousin went to New York City on vacation. While there, someone asked about their accent. When they told the people they were from Mississippi, the New Yorkers said that couldn’t be true because they were wearing shoes.
Even if these people were joking, it proves people are quick to judge Mississippi by standards of the past that are not true of Mississippi today.
Although there are some citizens live up to the stereotypes, those people are outliers. The majority of people who live here and have grown up in Mississippi are some of the nicest down-to-earth people you could ever meet.
Many would invite a visitor in for dinner and literally and metaphorically give them the shirt off of their if they needed it. For this reason, Mississippi is known as the Hospitality State. This is overlooked most of the time.
In contrast to the stereotypes, Mississippi has ranked #1 in generosity per capita. Mississippians give millions in donations to hurricane victims, tornado victims, and victims of other tragedies across the country, and this should be remembered.
A marketing campaign is needed to show the rest of the country that Mississippi is a forward-thinking, caring, and giving state. I would call it Mississippi: Helping and Hospitality. I would use the campaign to show other states the good aspects of Mississippi.
To accomplish this, I would make commercials showing that Mississippians give financially to others. I would also include footage of Mississippians helping in disaster relief projects. I would circulate the commercials nationally and statewide.
I would also create a social media division to reach younger generations. It would include pictures, Tweets, and videos that further our message and a blog featuring weekly interviews from citizens and politicians who want to support our message.
I’d also create T-shirts, stickers, buttons and hats with a witty slogan or campaign logo. A person might stop and ask what a shirt means, helping spread awareness. I believe this campaign could change negative perceptions of Mississippi.