Embracing LGBTQ Audiences in Corporate Communication: A Media Literacy Discussion

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Walden, Justin
Prutsman, Amy
Inclusivity has been an increasingly important aspect of marketing and public relations in recent years, especially when it comes to the LGBTQ community. Including this group as a potential target for business communications is not only a smart decision for sales and growth but is also a matter of ethical business operation. Thus, there are normative and financial pressures to embrace inclusivity with LGBTQ and other diverse audiences. This interactive presentation will offer insight into companies who have embraced this community in their marketing and public relations efforts either successfully or unsuccessfully. The presenters will provide evidence of how acting unethically or having complete disregard for this community can have detrimental consequences for some of the world’s largest companies. This presentation is held in light of major changes to our media landscape. Social media has helped companies find new ways of telling compelling stories and engage in two-way communication with targeted audiences. However, this technology has also fueled a worrisome series of ethical missteps and lapses in judgment. Our discussion will conclude with a balanced exploration of the positives and negatives that come when organizations attempt to use social media for LGBTQ-focused communication. The presentation team consists of a Brockport public relations professor, and a Brockport student whose senior honors thesis explores this topic.
Presenters: Justin Walden, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at The College at Brockport. He teaches public relations courses, and his research centers on companies’ strategic use of social media and other technologies. He has nearly a decade in the field (six years as a newspaper reporter and three years in PR) and currently advises Brockport’s PR Club. Dr. Walden brings a strong professional orientation to the classroom. He has a master of arts in media studies from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and a PhD in mass communication from Penn State University. Amy Prutsman is an undergraduate student at The College at Brockport studying marketing and communications with a concentration in public relations. This presentation was sparked by her Honors College thesis aiming to outline best practices for marketing and public relations efforts in the modern technological world. Ms. Prutsman’s thesis research, advised by Dr. Walden, will be completed by April 2015 and presented at The College at Brockport Scholars Day. Upon graduation, Amy will pursue a career in integrated marketing communications putting to good use her understanding of modern business communications.