Erlendson While growing up in Bakersfield, Calif., Natalie Erlendson developed a great appreciation for the area’s fresh fruits and vegetables.
The 2004 University of California-Los Angeles grad didn’t have a clue, however, that she would ultimately apply her mass communications degree to the promotion of fresh produce for Sun World International LLC.
Erlendson started her career at Kaiser Permanente. She spent three years as a cog in the massive public affairs machine of the health care giant. Then she worked as managing editor for a group of local niche publications for about a year.
“I am results-oriented, though, and I need to be in a job where my results can be measured and tied back directly to the company I’m working for,” she said, adding that she did not hesitate when she had the chance to move to Sun World as a marketing assistant.
In her three years at the Bakersfield grower/marketer she has advanced to the position of marketing manager.
Along the way she completely revamped the Sun World website — launching the revision at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit expo in 2011 — and helped shift the company’s marketing strategy more toward customer service.
“The website redesign was hers from beginning to end,” said Gordon Robertson, senior vice president of sales and marketing.
“She knew how to communicate with our executives and vendor base to make it work for everyone.
“Natalie is both a thinker and a doer. She is great with the creative end, but she can also take the abstract and make it concrete, all the while communicating clearly to a variety of audiences.”
Effective communication isn’t just a skill to Erlendson: She sees that as the bottom line of her job description. But, she admits she couldn’t do it for just anything.
“I need to be promoting things I believe in and that I feel good about,” Erlendson said. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are perfect. Who can’t feel good about encouraging people to eat healthy food?”
To drive home Sun World’s messages about the benefits of produce, Erlendson has focused on making the most of packaging.
She helps boost brand recognition by using packaging to better communicate with consumers.
“Why just say ‘black seedless grapes’ when you can say ‘Midnight Beauty’ and get the unique name out there,” she said.
She does not work in a vacuum, though. Erlendson said she is a collaborative person.