It is all you hear about these days — authenticity. Everyone wants to be authentic in their advertising campaigns and efforts, yet why do so many fall short? Of course, I am focused on the LGBTQ market and consumer, but certainly it is the same with other niche markets.

We all want the same thing, to be accepted — as a customer, as a consumer, and well as a person. We all want to be heard, everyone is a certain slice of the pie that companies want — and they want as many pieces as possible. They want the teenager, the senior, the Black consumer, the LGBTQ consumer, the new mom, you get the idea. Everyone is something at some point, and the trick for any company is connecting with that consumer at the right time in the right place with the right message.

No matter your message or timing, it all starts with showing up in the right place. For the LGBTQ consumer, that means showing up in LGBTQ specific media, LGBTQ owned and operated media in particular. Makes sense, right? Show up in the most authentic place for the market, and no matter your market there is always a media outlet by and for that slice of life. 

With so much media today to choose from, you can’t always reach everyone in a community in the same way. Some LGBTQ consumers don’t have access to LGBTQ media, and so maybe there they get your message through television or digitally. But without a doubt, any authentic campaign should be based in “the” community’s media and grow from there. By doing so, you know you are starting out on the right footing, and as everyone knows a solid foundation is always the first step.

The above sounds so simple and really it is simple. But the LGBTQ market’s own media is mostly local, and even our national media does not have the large circulations that other minority markets have like People En Español or Essence. Certainly, we also do not have any national radio or television networks, so it takes some digging. I find that today so many don’t do the research necessary to base their campaigns in LGBTQ owned and operated media — because it takes work. Most are not listed in places other larger media properties are, but for those that do their homework it gives instant credibility. When I see national ads in top local LGBTQ titles, I know immediately they have done their homework since it must be sought out. Also, for those less versed in advertising or marketing, the person seeing the ad knows immediately that this company, product, or service is speaking to them directly. A friend told me once: When I see a national ad in “our” national media I know they are reaching out to “us,” but when I see that ad in my local LGBTQ media outlet, I know they are speaking to “me.” Folks, that’s what it’s all about. 

So, if you want to be authentic, base your campaign in media by and for the community you are pursuing. First off, every media property of the community you are pursuing is going to want your efforts to be successful, so immediately you will know if you have your messaging wrong or something is off or even if it is wonderful. Second, sometimes a campaign to, in our case, the LGBTQ community can be news itself, and if so you may have your first free editorial and a basis for a conversation and a relationship. Third, as you move to other venues, perhaps TV or Instagram, as you carry your message out, you have the foundational step of being able to tell your consumers your campaign is based within the community itself. Authenticity 101.

This year, as Pride comes back in person and people are starting to carefully step out again into the world, I think everyone everywhere should be careful that their messages are based in the foundational media of the group you want to reach.

Pride is still a month away, and what happens if it does not go as planned? Another Covid surge perhaps? Well, your messaging will still be in the right starting place. During these past two years when Pride was not in person, all LGBTQ media still had their Pride issues and still covered what was important to “us.” The question now is: will your messaging show up in an authentic way where your target is expecting it to be?

About the Author

Todd Evans is President and CEO of Rivendell Media-America’s leading LGBTQ media placement firm- a unique media company that was founded in 1979 and represents 95% of all LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS media in the United States and Canada. Rivendell Media serves as the national advertising representative for over 200 gay, lesbian and HIV/AIDS newspapers, magazines and entertainment guides their websites and standalone digital properties. After working for the company and then taking over in 1994, he has worked on almost every major LGBT media campaign as well as every DTC campaign in the HIV/AIDS market since the FDA allowed them. That experience along with his knowledge of the media provide unique qualifications on what has worked and what is necessary to reach and speak to these audiences. Todd Evans is also a silent partner of Q Syndicate, the leading content provider for gay media and is also publisher of Press Pass Q, the industry newsletter for the gay and lesbian press professional. Todd Evans graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor in Political Science. He currently resides in Mountainside, New Jersey. He can be reached at or 908-232-2021 ext 210.

View Articles