Oklahoma has benefitted from its share of good publicly in recent years, including a stint in the NBA Finals and one of the strongest local economies during the recent recession.
For the past few weeks the state has returned to the national spotlight, this time with images of danger and destruction from a series of deadly tornadoes.
The national coverage has threatened to damage the state's improving reputation.
“Overall, it's certainly not helpful to growing our economy or to our outside view, but I don't think there's any long-term negative affect,” Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said. “We've established our own identity over the past few years. I don't think we're branded by tragedies like we once were. Our brand has improved such that the weather events don't overshadow the other events we've highlighted and promoted.”
Before the growth of the past decade, most people who had never been to Oklahoma thought of the state only in light of tornadoes, “The Grapes of Wrath” and the Oklahoma City bombing, Cornett said.
“Ten to 20 years ago, our brand didn't stand for much. It didn't have any positive things associated with it,” Cornett said. “Now with the (Thunder) basketball team and the general economic news that has come out, there are so many positive things to be associated with Oklahoma City. It's much easier for our brand to withstand this type of weather information.”
Part of the reason “The Grapes of Wrath” created such a strong, long-term, negative impression of Oklahoma is that the story was the only impression many Americans had of the state, said Don Hackler, deputy director for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
“The availably of media helps us today because people get to see the resolve of the people in Oklahoma, the way we respond to adversity and also the way fellow Oklahomans respond by providing material assistance, time and money to help their fellow Oklahomans,” Hackler said. “That's something that the nation and the world have really come to learn ever since the Murrah Bombing. That was one of the big messages that ended up resonating after the Murrah Bombing is the veracity and kindness of Oklahomans.”
Survey says ...
The Oklahoma City Chamber every few years conducts surveys of business leaders nationwide about their perceptions of Oklahoma City.
“Weather typically comes up,” said Cynthia Reid, communications director for the chamber. “We see the impact of weather ebb and flow from year to year. It was an increased concern in 2010 compared to 2007 because we had just had some storms. If we were to take that survey again now, we would see the same thing, but a year or two from now, we might not.”
The recent tornadoes may create a fearful image for some, but the national reports also could actually be beneficial, Reid said.
“There's not a doubt in my mind that this brings some of those negative stereotypes back, but the coverage also has shown what kind of place this is,” Reed said. “There's a positive impact of how we come together.”
While the storms have highlighted a negative affect of living in Oklahoma, they also have pointed out one of the state's greatest strengths, Hackler said.
Outpatient ROBOTIC HYSTERECTOMY. Trust an experienced Robotic Surgeon.
The latest rankings