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At Louisiana Seafood, media relations is on the menu every day. And, it’s where Ashley Roth brings reporters to the table year after year.

Restoring a Respected Brand

To rebuild a brand, you first need a baseline of opinion from people who buy, sell and use your products. It requires research to ground your communications in the realities of the marketplace.

For the Louisiana Seafood Board, those realities kept changing. As a brand, the state’s seafood suffered a one-two punch, delivered by a pair of disasters: Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

Ashley Desk

Ashley Roth has faced more than her share of storms.  She has a proven track record of success in helping rebuild Louisiana’s seafood brand – crisis after crisis.

Ewell Smith, the board’s executive director, said it took a couple of years to get beyond the negative perception caused by Katrina and its “toxic soup,” caused by contaminants mixing with flood waters.

With the oil spill, Smith said it was “on TV and the internet for three or four months straight, 24/7. So, we figured it would probably take three to five years  … and we’re coming up on three years … to right the brand. And we still have perception concerns.”

In her PR role, Ashley Roth is helping to allay those concerns through ongoing consumer research at regional and national levels.

After the oil spill, the board had scientific data that affirmed the seafood’s safety. In fact, Louisiana seafood probably was the most tested food on the planet. Consumers still needed convincing, though.

Then, there came that ah-ha moment when the board learned “a consumer is more likely to trust the person who’s preparing their food than they are a person who has a PhD (testing it),” Roth said.

Knowing this, the board enlisted well-known chefs as brand allies. Through its Chefs Council, culinary leaders prepare signature dishes throughout the U.S., endorsing Louisiana’s seafood.

Today, the quality of its seafood is taking the Louisiana brand to a “whole new level,” Roth said. Producing a premium product is now the message – underpinned by the state’s new certification program, where seafood is caught, landed and processed in Louisiana.

This is especially important because consumers want to know the point of origin of their seafood, she said. Certification distinguishes the brand, ensuring the “wild and authentic” taste of Louisiana seafood for consumers.

Ashley Roth