Best Piece of Advice Linda ever got about joining an association
“If you join a professional organization, join to lead it. You don’t want to just be a member. Figure out what leadership in that organization means for you.”
Tell us about Linda Roth.
I’m originally from Baltimore and went to UMD. After school, I moved into this region. My first job was in community outreach for WHFS radio – a Progressive Rock Station. Then I applied to work at Tramp’s disco in the evening, so I could still job search during the day. That turned into my day job, as I was able to expand my public relations skills and experience promoting a disco, which propelled me into a bigger world of entertainment PR. I learned I had the skills that could translate to promoting & publicizing other vertical markets – from associations to computer shows.
Tell us about Roth PR.
I started out in food and beverage PR when I worked with Anton Airfoods, a foodservice company that operated restaurants & food service operations in airports – including DCA and IAD. We helped reposition what travelers thought about airport food. To this day, I advise eating sushi at airport restaurants since it’s always fresh as there is constant turnover and little storage room. We even introduced the first steakhouse at an airport-- Gallagher’s at Newark Liberty International Airport.
This began a natural progression into promoting other companies such as a healthy snack bar called NRG Foods, based in Ft Lauderdale, a cheesecake company, Cotton Blues based in Hattiesburg, MS, DC-based brewery Atlas Brew Works as well as several Virginia-based distilleries.
We have learned to adapt to other cultures (think about the difference of those who walk carpet vs tile), when opening new hotels or renovated hotels for Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental and their subsidiary brands.
People are amazed to learn there are just seven of us who manage PR & marketing for such a variety of clients around the region. We have taken advantage of this remote work period to learn & develop more digital skills so we can offer what so many businesses need now. We revamped our website as well to highlight the social media research and other digital outreach we now offer. We are a Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) within the Events DC program, so we are a DC-based company, with a DC address. But our presence is so much more.
What is the coolest place that you’ve ever promoted?
That’s like asking, “Who is your favorite child?”
The opening of Jiffy Lube Live (it was called the Nissan Pavilion when it opened) was an amazing experience in dealing with entertainers, consumers, and local government as well as media.
We also enjoyed the positioning challenge of the Back Room at Capo Italian Deli in DC. It looks like a regular grab & go deli, but there is a hidden, cool private event space. We held an event there with AMADC and I watched confused arriving guests who thought they were in the wrong place. Then they saw me and ventured inside where I opened up the walk-in freezer entrance to a restored “speakeasy.”
How has your company fared during the pandemic?
In addition to restaurants & hotels, companies that produce large, consumer events have been hit hard. We pivoted with them but are now planning for the return of the big shows, like Awesome Con, with a big (safe) rollout, from DC to Portland, Oregon.
We have been developing alternative ways to promote restaurants and have opened a couple during this pandemic. We opened Smokecraft Modern Barbecue in Clarendon last August, highlighting their numerous recent awards for barbecue as well as their state-of-the-art new air-filtration system. We have a new focus for hotel & restaurant openings and events right now. We adapt to what works best for our clients and for consumers.
What is the biggest benefit you’ve gotten from AMADC membership?
I had been a member of AMADC for a while and had not taken advantage of it. Mike Gardner, who was president at the time, wanted to ramp up our networking events, so I revamped the networker protocol. We held events at cool new places that everyone wanted to check out. We added a drawing for a restaurant gift certificate.
The venue got to keep the business card entries for their database and the guests got to check out their complimentary appetizers. We had early access (it helps when it’s your client) at restaurants and entertainment venues right after they opened: City Winery in Ivy City, DC; The Delegate in downtown DC, Earl’s in Tysons Corner. They became so popular that we had to put a 50-person cap on them. We posted images on our social media, AMADC’s social, and sent photos of the raffle winner to the Washington Business Journal. It was a win/win for all of us.