They call it “earned” media for a reason: you have to work hard for it. As representations of LGBTQ people continue to increase in quantity and quality, it’s important to think about how an earned media strategy must be integrated into your marketing, advertising, social media and other efforts. Whether you are looking for visibility for a product, an organization or an individual, telling a story through earned media is challenging but also can reap extraordinary benefits.
A recent case in point? A small, visionary organization that works with Transgender Youth, GenderCool has had success in getting visibility as an organization of young people with inspirational and positive stories of trans youth with supportive families and bright futures. Meant to act as a counterpoint to the massive negative media coverage and attention paid to transgender people generally and transgender children in particular, they have gained much traction and caught the attention of LGBTQ advocacy groups, in particular those that focus on workplace issues. Most recently they partnered with Intuit, as part of the first trans summit in Silicon Valley. And a targeted, strategic pitch to Forbes magazine resulted in a thoughtful, nuanced article about the organization and larger issues regarding the future of the tech workforce and how companies need to prepare for a more gender diverse and gender fluid workforce as well as address issues of their current employees. Their non-traditional approach to the discussion of these issues engaged all the attendees and also made the Forbes article stand out in the crowded space of coverage of “diversity and sensitivity in the workplace” discussions.
The result? After the article appeared, not only did the piece – and GenderCool – gain significant social media traction and attention, it prompted numerous inquiries from other companies who saw the value in what they had done and approached them about doing the same program at their company. THAT is the power of earned media – results oriented education or outreach, moving the needle on an issue and amplifying an issue or part of the LGBTQ community in a new way.

About the Author

Cathy Renna is a veteran in the communications industry, and currently serves as the Principal of Target Cue and the Communications Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force. Since her time at GLAAD in the 1990’s and early aughts, Cathy has executed her particular expertise in crisis and strategic communications, playing a central role in shaping nearly all major issues affecting the LGBTQ community, from the beating death of Matthew Shepard in 1998 to the fight for marriage equality and the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. She most recently worked with the team that coordinated historic coverage for WorldPride/Stonewall 50, working with NYC Pride. After leaving her position at GLAAD as National News Media Director, Cathy joined Fenton Communications, where she served as its New York office Media Director from 2004 to 2006. She went on to found Renna Communications and co-found Target Cue that same year. In her over 25 years of media relations and activism experience, Cathy has garnered placements in every major online and broadcast outlet in the country, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Associated Press, and the Washington Post. She is a sought after spokesperson for LGBTQ issues, and has appeared on the O’Reilly Factor, CNN, MSNBC, and Good Morning America. Cathy currently resides in Montclair, New Jersey. She can be reached at or 917-722-7862.

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