Jeremy Woodrow calls his new position at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute a “lifelong dream.”
It’s not hard to see why, either.
Woodrow, who on Monday was named the executive director of the Juneau-based marketing group, grew up around commercial fisheries before studying public relations and advertising in college.
“Being able to blend something that’s been always a part of my life with a career, that’s a lifelong dream,” Woodrow, 38, said.
Woodrow has been the interim executive director for the last six months, and was the marketing group’s communications director before that. ASMI markets Alaska seafood in an effort to drive up its economic value, providing information and resources to consumers and the places they buy it.
Before joining ASMI, Woodrow was the communications officer for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. He also has experience with Schiedermayer & Associates, ASMI’s former public relations agency. He takes over for Alexa Tonkovich, who left the group in December for educational opportunities.
The Empire spoke with Woodrow on Tuesday afternoon inside his downtown office to talk about the job.
Q: Many people, a lot of Alaskans, might assume that Alaskan seafood would sell itself. What are some things people may not know about the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute?
A: A lot of people — especially Alaskans — we know that we have the best fish in the world. But what a lot of Alaskans probably don’t realize is to a prospective buyer, someone who’s buying seafood from across the world, there is an equivalent competitive species for every single species of fish that comes out of our water. Everybody is very aware of farmed salmon. Farmed salmon competes one-to-one with Alaska salmon to a prospective buyer in the world markets. There’s East Coast halibut as there is West Coast or Pacific halibuts. Our black cod, which is considered some of the best fish in the world, competes with Chilean sea bass. There is competition on availability and price and quality to every single one of the species that we have. It’s not just as easy as selling fish from Alaska, it’s selling fish from Alaska that competes one-to-one (with other fish). And that’s just in fish. There is competition amongst other proteins and plant-based diets where seafood has to find its way into the consumer’s mind.
Q: What’s been the best part of being the interim executive director for the last six months?
A: As I told a lot of people, being the interim director, you get to test drive the car without having to buy it. … You get to experience the seafood industry in a different way than perhaps I did as a communications director. You get involved in some conversations that are
deeper than what I looked for as stories as a communications director. Those deeper conversations go to bigger solutions. One of the challenges I enjoyed and will continue to enjoy is trying to find solutions for the seafood industry.
Q: Is there a particular solution that you’re working on now?
A: A great one that we’ve been very involved in, and it’s not something that ASMI is carrying the weight alone, but the tariff situation between the U.S. and China is a big issue to the entire industry. We’ve been working closely with other trade associations that are involved in the Alaska seafood industry and making sure to be engaged with our delegation in D.C. so they’re aware of the needs of the industry, too. That’s something that isn’t going away, and that’s definitely a challenge that we’ve been trying to take on head-on at ASMI from a marketing perspective.