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Coming out of the Closet

Exploring LGBT Issues in Strategic Communication with Theory and Research

Natalie T.J. Tindall and Richard D. Waters

Despite representing significant portions of the advertising, marketing, and public relations work force, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community has largely been ignored by scholarly research in strategic communications. With the exception of case studies that document strategies that can be used to secure the LGBT consumer dollar, little has been done to understand the LGBT community’s experiences with strategic communications efforts. This edited volume fills this gap by sharing research on the impact and interaction of campaigns and programming from advertising, marketing, and public relations on internal (e.g., practitioners and employees) and external (e.g., consumers, activists) stakeholders from the LGBT community. Several chapters in this volume highlight a significant change in the focus of strategic communications that recognizes the long-term benefits of having legitimate partnerships; others, however, counter this optimistic trend by discussing the continued struggles of practitioners working in strategic communication and the LGBT community at large.
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Chapter 4: One Agenda, Multiple Platforms: How 21st-Century LGBT Advocacy Organizations Navigate a Shifting Media Landscape to Communicate Messages of Equality


Dean E. Mundy

Today’s movement for LGBT equality comprises many members and ally networks. It is seen through community events, political lobbying, fundraising, and public education campaigns. Media have always played a crucial role in communicating the gay movement’s message. Today, new types of media provide LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) advocacy organizations with the opportunity to execute large-scale, professional, strategic communication campaigns. It is important to explore how 21st-century advocacy organizations engage various forms of media to help shape the public agenda.

This chapter explores how state-based LGBT advocacy organizations engage media, and how today’s media landscape affects those efforts. The findings—from interviews with leaders of LGBT advocacy organizations in eight states—provide crucial insights regarding modern media relations. Indeed, new tools offer new ways of reaching more stakeholders, but these tools also present new challenges. As one participant explained, “If you used to write a press release, you wrote one. Now you write one, and you syndicate it to 10 different places.” Campaigns must convey a heightened degree of media savvy. As a result, today’s state-based LGBT advocacy media efforts offer an important comparison to mid-20th-century perspectives regarding how, and to what extent, media help or hinder LGBT advocacy.

The state-based perspective of LGBT advocacy is central to this chapter. As the Equality Federation has argued, “The overwhelming majority of protections for lgbt [sic] people in the United States exists not at the federal level, but through laws passed by state...

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