February 3, 2014
Kelly Schulz moved back home to New Orleans in April 2006, seven months after Hurricane Katrina, to join the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and help rebuild the city’s tourism industry. She previously worked in Dallas as communications director for Meeting Professionals International and as an account supervisor for Edelman.
Schulz serves as a spokesperson for New Orleans’ tourism industry and oversees the CVB’s strategic communications, media relations, crisis management, social media and advocacy programs. She holds degrees from LSU in mass communications and psychology.
At this time of year, Schulz discusses what Mardi Gras means to the people of New Orleans as well as tourists, and the planning that goes into the festivities year-round.
“Mardi Gras is a major tourist attraction, but it is a tradition that has been celebrated by local residents since the 1830s,” she says. “There is pageantry, a sense of history and a family-friendly side to Mardi Gras that most people do not see. No city can throw a party like New Orleans and Mardi Gras is the ultimate, four-week celebration that begins every year on January 6, Kings Day. The city administration does a masterful job coordinating the complex logistics with approximately 35 different ‘krewes’ whose parades and hundreds of members roll through the streets with floats, costumed revelers and marching bands. And last year we hosted a Super Bowl in the middle!”
Name: Kelly Schulz
To become a nurse — but my career path changed after sitting through one day of biochemistry class at LSU and being completely intimidated!
Vice president of communications and public relations for New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau — it’s an honor to represent the 80,000 men and women of New Orleans’ tourism industry.
A professor said I was a good writer
First public relations job:
Intern at the Dallas office at Edelman
What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
When dealing with a situation, it is not just about knowing the right answers to questions, it’s about knowing which questions to ask.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
You don’t know what you don’t know. That is so true, especially when working with people from other cultures.
Greatest professional accomplishment:
Four months after Hurricane Katrina devastated my hometown of New Orleans and destroyed the homes of my entire family, I was recruited in a national search for the top PR job to restore New Orleans’ tourism industry when the destination had suffered horrible reputation damage. I had been working in Dallas for several years, but moved back home in 2006 to rebuild New Orleans through public relations and promoting its economic engine: tourism.
If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:
A kindergarten teacher
Being part of the team that restored New Orleans’ tourism industry, image and economy after Hurricane Katrina
Make a “business case” for public relations:
To be successful, an organization must have the trust and respect of its customers and stakeholders. Public relations creates and maintains that trust.