By William Nash
Research obtained from eight people outside the state of Mississippi revealed there is huge lack of knowledge and misconceptions about the state. Not one of the eight people asked could name an attraction or even a city inside Mississippi.
Six of the eight people surveyed associated Mississippi with “rednecks,” racism and poverty. Due to little knowledge about Mississippi outside of the state, there is no opportunity to inform people of any positive aspects of the state. Stereotypes about Mississippi are based on ignorance, and previous ties to the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Negative statistics contribute heavily to visitors’ beliefs about Mississippi. A low education attainment rate perpetuates the belief that all Mississippian’s are backwoods rednecks with no knowledge. However, Mississippi has produced great writers, such as William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright, Kathryn Stockett, and Eudora Welty.
Colleges, such as the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, are in the top 200 schools in the nation, (https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges) and Millsaps College is in the top 100 schools. These important distinctions prove that not all Mississippians are uneducated rednecks.
Racism is a much graver association visitors have with the state of Mississippi. Mississippi’s violent racial history gives visitors a false impression that the entire state is racist.
Mississippi has the highest concentration of African Americans in the nation (38 percent). Mississippi also gave birth to famous civil rights leaders, such as Medgar Evers, Ida B. Wells and Percy Green.
In 1964, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party disputed the white establishment of the Democratic National Convention in New Jersey. Mississippi may have a history of racism, but it also has a history of empowerment for African-Americans.
My marketing campaign will be named Modern Mississippi and will involve increasing Mississippi’s positive online presence. Modern Mississippi will portray Mississippi as a tolerant and accepting place that offers modern attractions. This will be accomplished by entirely reworking the search engine optimization (SEO) associated with Mississippi.
My second step will be to create a Modern Mississippi website that will change the perception of Mississippi being nothing but farmland. This website will display the vibrant music scene present all over the state. Providing a map of various music festivals and popular bars will create an incentive for people to visit, and show the little known, but highly talented musical artists in Mississippi.
Top story results for Mississippi on Google are negative news reports, such as “Mississippi Remembers Confederate Day.” I would begin by identifying websites that portray Mississippi positively. Pay the websites to rewrite the tags in their website’s programming.
For example, the website dioms.org is a website encouraging same-sex ministries and unity inside Mississippi. However, the site appears on the second page of Google. I would contact the owners of dioms.org to and create more relevant tags that Google’s algorithm will pick up. Therefore, raising its position on Google and changing the view that Mississippi is more tolerant than it is historically known for.
ModernMississippi.com will include a slideshow of modern attractions, such as the Casinos of Tunica and beaches of Biloxi. Showing that Mississippi has luxury resort destinations will prove there is more to Mississippi than just farmland.
I would also create a page showing how popular music venues are, and include a list of people performing at said venue. This page will have an interactive map that will create a bubble for each venue.
Once clicked, it will provide a list of the artists performing and instructions on how to reach said venue. Showcasing the talented artists of Mississippi gives visitors another reason to visit the state, and proves Mississippi has a plethora of culture worth exploring.
If I had more time to develop the website, I would have made the website more foreign-friendly. Mississippi has such a sinister history known to Americans, a foreign audience would find the state much more appealing.
I would pay for web advertisement spots in foreign countries with a higher exchange rate like Brazil. Wealthy foreign tourists are known to visit destinations for the sole purpose of shopping.
Mississippi’s low sales tax is the perfect destination for wealthy tourists to shop. I would also equip the website with translation options for multiple languages. I would provide an interactive map of popular malls and shopping outlets to ease the burden of finding the perfect shopping center.
If additional time was allocated, I would include more eco-tourism opportunities. State parks, such as the Natchez Trail, Roosevelt State Park, and countless others, offer pristine forests that cannot be matched anywhere else in the nation.
Not only do they offer great camping opportunities, they also give tourists an opportunity to explore plants and wildlife exclusive to Mississippi.
I should have included another interactive map that enables locations to appear on specific searches. For example, a person searches for biking tails, and only parks with biking would appear on the map. Eco-tourism will give residents a reason to maintain the eco-system and give visitors a reason to love Mississippi.