Louisiana Seafood Board

Crisis and brand-image management: Louisiana Seafood Industry

Endorsement:

 “We realized the initial attention being given to BP and the capping of the oil well was hampering our ability to get our story told. We needed to have the public informed about seafood safety, as well as the potential dangers the spill could have on the Louisiana fishing industry. We needed to speak with a powerful voice. David Henderson’s call stood out above all the rest. He understood the obstacles we were facing, and the need for an online news site to get our stories told and to build influence.”

~ Ewell Smith, executive director, Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board.

Situation:

The April 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was an overnight environmental disaster of epic proportions in America’s most fertile seafood waters. Commercial fishing operations immediately came to a halt, putting the 22,000 people involved in Louisiana’s seafood industry — and a billion-dollar industry — in financial peril just as many were emerging from the hardships of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

The Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, representing the industry, turned to News Strategies™ to get the world news media’s attention over the plight of people in the seafood industry who might otherwise not have their voices heard, and to reinforce trust in the quality of Louisiana seafood. The method was a special news site, LouisianaSeafoodNews.com,* developed and filled with editorial content – captivating and real news stories, news photos and b-roll news video – produced by News Strategies™ in less than two weeks.

Objectives:

      • Deliver a continuous flow of human-interest stories to catch the interest of mainstream media and be repeated. In other words, a primary and legitimate news resource at a time when mainstream media appreciates a helping hand due to cutbacks.
      • Generate significant awareness of suffering within the seafood industry to get a sizable financial settlement from BP and other responsible parties.
      • Underscore a favorable brand image and trust in Louisiana seafood.
      • Position Louisiana politically as one of America’s most important resources for fresh seafood.

Elements of the news site:

      • Human-interest feature stories about individual fishermen, underscoring how whole communities along coastal Louisiana felt the financial impact of the oil spill.
      • Broadcast-quality HD news b-roll video and interviews made available to TV news.
      • Highly effective search engine optimization (SEO) to dominate major search engines.
      • A team of six News Strategies™ professional journalists and news photographers working to generate content.
      • Original, timely and fresh news stories updated daily.

Results:

      • BP offered the Louisiana Seafood Board an initial $30-million dollar settlement, citing awareness generated by the news site.
      • Heightened media attention. Major news organizations — including CNN, BBC, CBS News, NBC News and PBS NewsHour — used story content from the site and were guided in editorial tone and direction, often referencing information on the news site. (The settlement eventually increased to more than $50-million.)
      • Most major television news organizations have downloaded and used broadcast-quality HD news video produced by News Strategies™ for the news site.
      • More than 3,000 people worldwide visited the news site each day.
      • The news site regularly ranked in the top 70,000 most popular websites in the United States, as measured by Alexa.com.

* Note: After 14 months and when all of the crisis communications and competitive objectives were achieved, LouisianaSeafoodNews.com was converted into online promotion of the Louisiana Seafood Board.