The Power of PR in Raising Awareness of LGBTQ+ Issues

Communications professionals are in a unique position to amplify the inclusive narrative that the LGBTQ+ community and culture stands for. Public relations and marketing have the power to change hearts and minds, shift public opinion and create safe spaces for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

At the core of LGBTQ+ culture is the belief that everyone deserves respect, acceptance and equality, regardless of their gender or sexual identity. This is a message that needs to be communicated effectively to the wider public in order to challenge outdated attitudes and create a more equitable and compassionate society. Here are three ways communicators can shape corporate narratives to advance understanding of LGBTQ+ issues.

Start with Authenticity

Crafting messaging that is authentic, relevant and resonates with a target audience is central to any effective public relations push but it’s particularly important when working with issues that have historically been the subject of political or ideological tension. Communicators must be sensitive to the cultural nuances of different LGBTQ+ communities while also having a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that these communities face. This can often only come from being part of the community oneself or having a strong connection to someone within it.

In the absence of first-hand experience, communicators should be diligent about educating themselves and those on their team about the past and present of LGBTQ+ culture. It can also be helpful to pressure test messaging with members of the LGBTQ+ community before distributing it more broadly. Just be sure to approach the exercise with sensitivity and recognize that not everyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ will want to offer feedback.

The most authentic LGBTQ+ communications amplify the stories of community members in a way that honors and respects their experiences. Part of our job as PR professionals is to give a voice and a platform to those who might not otherwise have access to them. This means keeping real LGBTQ+ narratives at the heart of any marketing materials.

Aim for Impact

From creating engaging social media campaigns that raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues to developing strategic communications plans that engage policymakers and the media, public relations and communications play an essential role in driving progress and achieving meaningful change in the LGBTQ+ community.

Impact can be difficult to measure, especially at the awareness level where public relations campaigns exist, but finding creative ways to assess the efficacy of LGBTQ+ messaging is an important element of advancing understanding for the community. How are people talking about your insights on social media? Have you received feedback (positive or negative) from audience members?

The most effective PR and marketing campaigns identify a desired behavior and work backwards to determine how to nudge audiences towards it. If the goal is to raise empathy and acceptance for a historically marginalized group, communicators need to decide which stories or messages are going to prove why their audience should care, then put a strategy in place to push them out. The most impactful communications are the ones that tug at heartstrings, give people a reason to care and provide actionable steps towards making a difference.

Act Now

At a time when LGBTQ+ rights are under threat from all sides, it has never been more important for public relations professionals to be vocal advocates for this vibrant and diverse community. There is no month or week when we should pay extra attention to amplifying more LGBTQ+ voices – inclusive and diverse communications aimed at sparking change should be a priority all year round.

Raising awareness, shifting attitudes and building bridges across different communities through authentic storytelling can help to create a more inclusive, tolerant and equitable world for all.

By Shannon Thornton

This blog was based on insights from the Museum of Public Relations’ June 2023 webinar on the LGBTQ+ experience in PR.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Pexels