Rebranding alone will not fix NC’s problems

Rebranding alone will not fix NC’s problems

Kevin Griffin

North Carolina has received no shortage of bad publicity lately.

From the New York Times’ July 2013 editorial speaking of “the decline of North Carolina” to the national coverage of the coal ash spill, The Tar Heel State has suffered negative attention nationally.

To address the problem of the state’s image, the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the North Carolina Department of Commerce is embarking on a rebranding campaign for the state.

Not all details about the project have been released, but the campaign would involve seeking input from citizens through forums and by hosting contests where they can express what North Carolina means to them.

The state certainly should work to repair its image, but we also must make sure that we work to address the things that have brought so much embarrassment to the state.

The problem is not just one of perception, but of reality. For at least the past year, we have seen dysfunctional government in the state, something that in no way makes us attractive to outsiders.

North Carolina ranks No. 46 in teacher pay, according to the National Education Association. The revelation by the Associated Press that the State Department of Environment and Natural Resources blocked lawsuits over coal ash ponds has exposed potential corruption within Duke Energy.

Consider this in conjunction with the questionable comments and actions of Gov. Pat McCrory and we can get an idea of why perception of North Carolina has declined.

These problems are not just bad for North Carolina’s image, but for its people as well. To counteract these problems, serious substantive actions need to be taken, actions that go beyond just a rebranding campaign.

I do not totally object to the new branding campaign. It could be a part of a broader strategy to improve the state.

Taking the impressions of citizens into account could give an outlet to public opinion, which could in turn push the state to make the changes that are really needed and to bring what is best in North Carolina. But if the rebranding campaign proves to be nothing more than an attempt to gloss over issues, then it will be nothing more than a dishonest charade that does nothing for the state.

Rebranding can have its place, but to be truly effective it must be accompanied by real, substantive solutions.

Kevin Griffin, a sophomore journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.