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The Katrina Effect

I went by to check out one of the rooms where two of the media events are being held later this week. I stopped by to see one of my favorite molders of young minds, Robin Street, PR instructor extraordinaire. Robin invited me to spend a few minutes with her PR class and share with them what we are working to accomplish during this week.
The reaction to my abbreviated lecture was what I’ve come to expect. Many of the students were engaged and animated – a couple fell asleep. But I will say that they all listened a little closer when I made the following statement: “Katrina was the single best PR event that ever occurred in Mississippi.” And in my opinion, it was.
Millions of people from across the world saw Mississippi endure the brunt of the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. But they also saw our reaction. Even in the worst circumstances, they saw the spirit and determination of people who would not wallow in self pity and who had no intention of standing around waiting on the federal government to take control of our destiny.
More importantly, hundreds of thousands of volunteers poured into the Magnolia State. People who would otherwise have never in their lifetime traveled to Mississippi made the trip and lived among us. A little over three years later, the most vocal supporters of Mississippi are the volunteers who never imagined they would find themselves working side-by-side with our people who had just lost everything. In the worst circumstances imaginable, they saw us at our best.
The parallels of this debate are similar. Over 3000 members of the media will be in Mississippi over the next 72 hours. Most of those journalist, tech crews and support personnel would never travel to Mississippi were it not for this assignment.
The Presidential Debate, unlike Katrina, offers Mississippi a chance to control our own destiny. But like Katrina, this event offers a chance for the rest of the country to see Mississippi in a whole new light.



Mississippi Believe It!