New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau Promo, Case study NOT SO EASY IN THE BIG EASY by Weber Shandwick New York

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Industry Environmental & Animal Issues
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Weber Shandwick New York
Released September 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Crisis and Issue Management
President & CEO: Stephen Perry (New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Vice President, Communications & Public Relations: Kelly Schulz (New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Director, Communications & Public Relations: Jennifer Day (New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Media Services Coordinator: Christine Decuir (New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Senior Communications Coordinator: Jennifer Lotz (New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau)
President: Rene Mack (Weber Shandwick)
Account Director: Sarah Kissko Hersh (Weber Shandwick)
Senior Account Executive: Jennifer Reisfeld (Weber Shandwick)
Assistant Account Executive: Chelsey Lutz (Weber Shandwick)
Assistant Account Executive: Claire Tucker (Weber Shandwick)
Media placement: Targeted National Media Outreach - NBC TODAY Show, ABC News, CNN - 12 July 2010
Media placement: One-On-One Interview With Kelly Schulz And USA Today - USA Today - 12 July 2010
Media placement: Chef Outreach - Newsweek, Esquire - 15 July 2010
Media placement: Video Testimonials - Microsite - To Be Used As A Tool For Media - 18 July 2010
Media placement: Press Trip #1 - Everyday With Rachael Ray - 20 July 2010
Media placement: Press Release for Microsite Launch - Microsite - To Be Used As A Tool For Media - 29 July 2010
Media placement: Press Trip #2 -, Globalista, Tasting Table - 6 August 2010
Media placement: Press Trip #3 - Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Indagare,, Northside Ne - 27 August 2010
Media placement: Radio Media Tour - 618 Airings In 211 U.S. Markets - 27 August 2010
Summary of the Campaign
In New Orleans, where the hospitality industry is the city’s largest employer and lynchpin of its economy, the city and its people could not afford another setback just five years after Hurricane Katrina. When the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill struck, once again New Orleans (NOLA) had a widespread perception issue. The media were eager to link New Orleans to the disaster causing concern to spread quickly that oil had tainted New Orleans’s world-renowned seafood…despite that the oil was hundreds of miles away from the city and hadn’t affected its seafood at all.
With funding from a BP grant, the NOLA Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) led a campaign to combat growing misperceptions about NOLA’s seafood and visitor experience and prevent them from affecting tourism to the city. Using testimonies of respected influencers, a digital newsroom and engaging numerous high profile journalists, the CVB preserved NOLA’s image while driving tourism, the economic engine of the city.
The total number of readers, viewers and listeners reached by media generated from the campaign exceeded 125 million. More people visited New Orleans in 2010 than in any year since Katrina…in fact, last year’s visitor numbers almost exceeded even the strongest pre-Hurricane Katrina years.
The Situation
When the oil spill was mistakenly presumed to have tainted New Orleans’ seafood and tourism experience, the local hospitality industry looked to the CVB—the city’s primary marketing voice - to lead the way in protecting vital tourism revenue from being affected. The 5th anniversary of Katrina, just four months away, was a looming threat - while there was lots of progress to report on the city’s resurgence since the storm, if corrective messaging couldn’t reach consumers fast enough the one-two punch of negative messaging could create quite a setback for the city, on the heels of its hard fought comeback.
The Goal
Campaign goal: Protect and drive revenue to NOLA with an aggressive PR effort to generate positive messages of NOLA, showing that visitor and convention product and experiences were safe and untouched by oil.
Target Audiences: Consumers nationwide including business and leisure travelers; general consumer and business-oriented broadcast, print and online media.
Research: Filmed credible and reassuring video testimonials from Louisiana environmental, seafood and oceanic authorities; Gathered tourism data, local characters and spokespeople to confirm the vitality and quality of NOLA’s tourism, cultural experience and seafood; Identified national media outlets planning oil spill and fifth anniversary Katrina stories.
The Strategy
Use credible spokespeople to infuse key messaging into niche and mainstream media about the positive visitor experience in New Orleans and safety of its seafood; Implement a transparent, fact based communications campaign across multiple media channels to reassure consumers and educate the public on the distance between the spill and New Orleans.
A six-week public relations program was executed (primarily out of the agency) including national media relations, social media and the launch of - a digital newsroom providing media with up-to-date information, images and webisodes created for this campaign. Webisodes filmed in NOLA were designed to not just be viewed but to be easily embeddable for bloggers. Tourism authorities were continually given up-to the-minute messaging, visitor stats and seafood testing updates. Hosted the TODAY Show, ABC News, CNN, food influencers and nearly 20 high-profile food/travel journalists in NOLA on three press trips in August. Journalists sampled NOLA seafood firsthand served by the city’s finest chefs, met with tourism and seafood authorities and visited different attractions to reaffirm the city’s vibrancy and the high quality/safety of its seafood. The campaign stayed true to its original strategy and timeline though certain tactics were scrapped for lack of funding or timing issues.
Documented Results
More people visited New Orleans in 2010 than in any year since Katrina. 2010 visitor numbers almost exceeded even the record pre-Katrina year.
A two-month blitz of positive national stories heralding the quality of the city’s cuisine, culture and nightlife, infused with CVB spokespeople and key messages resulted from the media outreach and hosted media. Total readers, viewers and listeners reached more than 125 million and included 7 features segments on NBC’s TODAY Show (4.3M viewers), Multiple CNN segments (50M viewers), and a segment on ABC News all showing vibrant NOLA and its high seafood quality.
Three influential chefs were hosted and became brand ambassadors, stories of their experiences were in Newsweek and Esquire
Coverage corrected the misperception of NOLA: "Now just when NOLA is getting back on its feet some potential tourists think the oil spill is swirling nearby and that’s dead wrong." – USA TODAY