New Orleans FAM Tour Recap
5/22/2013 by: Edelman
On May 6 through May 8, Edelman facilitated a media familiarization tour in New Orleans to continue the process of brand recovery. The goal of the trip was to take brand recovery with key media a step farther. Instead of telling media that Gulf seafood is as fresh and delicious as ever, we wanted to show them. The goal of the tour was to give media the full experience of the Gulf, from tide to table.
The trip kicked-off on Monday night with a progressive dinner around the French Quarter. Upon arrival, all media checked in at the Royal Sonesta in the historic French Quarter in New Orleans. At Bayona, the first stop on the tour, media enjoyed Gulf yellowfin tuna, oysters and pickled shrimp. The first stop served as a mixer where media had the opportunity to taste fresh Gulf seafood appetizers while mingling with Coalition members and key representatives. Harlon Pearce welcomed the group and introduced Coalition and media members. Executive Chef Susan Spicer also addressed the media, discussed the Gulf seafood dish she prepared, and answered questions from media. The second stop on the dine-around was Restaurant R'evolution, where media enjoyed a seated appetizer of R'evolution's Oysters Voisin, a spinach, bacon and mornay sauce Gulf oyster dish. This provided a platform for Harlon to share the late Coalition Chairman Mike Voisin's legacy with the group. Chef John Folse also addressed the table and spoke to the dish, again touching on Mike's legacy, and welcomed media to New Orleans and Restaurant R'evolution. The final stop in the progressive dinner was at GW Fins, where media enjoyed a Gulf snapper entree. Chef Tenney Flynn discussed the dish with the group and his love for cooking with Gulf seafood. Chris Nelson delivered the final address to the group, reviewed the schedule for the following morning and dismissed the group.
Tuesday was an action-packed day starting at 6 a.m. Media met in the lobby of the Royal Sonesta where they were given coffee from the iconic Cafe Du Monde and then ushered into the bus where brown-bag breakfasts were to be eaten on the go. The bus headed towards the coast for Houma, LA to Motivatit Seafood, Mike Voisin's family-owned oyster processing plant. Mike's son-in-law Jason gave an overview of Motivatit and discussed their practices of post-harvest processing and the science gold-band oysters before opening up the floor for questions. He then led media on a tour of the oyster shucking and processing facilities, pointing out where the post-harvest processing takes place.
The next activity was a boat tour out into the Gulf. Media loaded into four charter boats and started out on the canals that lead to the water. The water was calm and after a short boat ride, all were out in the Gulf snapping photos of oyster harvesting boats. The media boats were able to get very close to the oyster-harvesting boats to see the process of casting the nets, pulling in the catch and then sorting the catch. Boat guides were able to discuss the process.
Once back on land, media loaded back up onto the bus and headed towards the third stop, Jensen's Tuna, where co-owners sliced thick cuts of tuna from a freshly caught fish. They explained how they catch the fish and the current fishing atmosphere. And, though shrimping season wasn't quite open yet, media were able to tour where shrimp will be harvested and sorted once shrimp season opens.
The final stop in our morning tour was Deanie's Seafood in Bucktown. Deanie's is both a restaurant and retail store. Media toured and sampled fresh fish from the retail store counter before heading to the restaurant for lunch. Media enjoyed Deanie's Gulf seafood "home cooking" menu of fried Gulf seafood.
Upon returning to the hotel, media had a short break to explore the French Quarter before heading to the Hyatt for the roundtable discussion. The roundtable allowed an open forum for media to ask additional questions to room full of industry experts. The conversation discussed sourcing, seafood safety after the spill, reaching consumers with the "good news" about Gulf seafood, the industry's financial state, lack-of-product for the 2013 fishing season thus far, labeling and availability. Round table experts included Chris Nelson, Chris Blankenship, Ralph Hode, Calvin Walker, Brian Landry, Randy Evans, Derek Emerson, Wesley True, Ashley Roth, Brooke Groff, Jason Rider, Alex Miller, Jay Tusa, Pam Dana and Joanne McNeely.
The roundtable had to be wrapped up after two hours so the group could head to the Gulf Chef Showcase dinner, hosted at Borgne in the Hyatt. The chefs featured in the showcase were: Brian Landry (Louisiana), Randy Evans (Texas), Derek Emerson (Mississippi) and Wesley True (Alabama). At Borgne, media enjoyed four passed appetizers and four seated entrees, one from each chef from each of the five states. At the end of the meal, the chefs addressed the group and revealed which chef prepared which dishes. Chris Nelson gave closing remarks and the group dispersed and departed the following morning.
More than just media stories, the trip converted fans and skeptics alike into advocates for Gulf seafood. As we continue our stringent media-relations efforts, we have in the plans to continue touching these key media contacts as we go along.
A full gallery of photos from the event is available at: https://edelmanftp.box.com/gulfseafoodfamphotos.