Katrina left New Orleans battered and empty. When cameraman Justin Kanno and I saw it in the days following the hurricane, it wasn't the damage...as bad as it was ....that was most startling, it was the eerie silence and emptiness of a city that was hard to imagine silent and empty. Looking at the debris left by evacuated residents outside the convention center, it was hard to imagine when New Orleans would be open for business again.
But as the city has struggled to rebuild, a priority has been to attract the visitors that drove much of its economy. The Mardi Gras celebration was held last year on schedule, a surprise to some, but sending a message that New Orleans was down but not out.
Selling that message to an American public after a year and a half of news stories about Katrina's lasting effects, is a marketing challenge. These UNR students think they have some answers.
Tonya Heinrich and other members of the student chapter of the American Marketing Association took on the issue as an extra curricular project...entering a nationwide competition.
The theme is Your New Orleans is Ready and it includes conventional media like billboards, but it also proposes targeting the 18-35 crowd with the internet and a competition.
Judges like what they see so far...they're among 8 finalists and next month they'll travel to New Orleans to present their ideas. Applying their education to a real life situation is, of course, rewarding and exciting, but the student team admits this project is different.
To make a donation to help with transportation expenses you can donate at any Wells Fargo Branch to the Your New Orleans is Ready account