Reaching out to the GLBT market

Beyond specialist media, various mainstream avenues exist to target the GLBT audience.

Beyond specialist media, various mainstream avenues exist to target the GLBT audience.

The GLBT community is for many marketers a dream demographic. A large proportion of gays and lesbians are either single or in double-income, no-kids relationships, which means they have more disposable income than the average family.

"There's so much money in the gay community that most brands feel they have to target them," notes Lance Buckley, national director of the men's division at Pierce Mattie Public Relations. "So it remains a white-hot target audience."

It's not solely because of their economic clout, either. "Gays and lesbians tend to be early adopters of trends and are very tech-savvy," says Matt Tumminello, president of Target 10 Marketing & Communications.

But reaching this demographic with targeted messages can be difficult, especially as you move outside the dedicated GLBT press. "When you're pitching gay media, you have more success if you have a gay angle," says Tumminello. "But when you're trying to reach GLBT audiences through mainstream, it's more about making sure you have an appealing story for publications with high gay readership."

"There's only a handful of the general interest publications that have specifically gay sections," adds Steven Deitsch, president of New York-based Reverberate Marketing Communications. "However, there are many sections of general interest outlets that have appeal, such as the Style Section of The New York Times, and city magazines like New York or Los Angeles, which are considered gay-friendly."

Other mainstream outlets popular with the GLBT community include Details, Time Out New York, Entertainment Weekly, Men's Health, Travel & Leisure, Vanity Fair, and GQ, and broadcast outlets like Bravo, The Style Channel, and E!

"There are a lot of gay readers who have become very sophisticated, and they can't just read Out," points out Marc Mannino, VP of strategic marketing with The Karpel Group.

Even the outlets that aren't obvious targets will have at least some gay readers. "Gays and lesbians have other identities - they work on Wall Street or are doctors - and are reading the sports pages or the business section," says Deitsch.

Once you've targeted the right outlets, you need to make sure your content resonates. It's not that the GLBT community is turned off by stories with only heterosexual references, though some individuals may be. But James Brodsky, president of Sharp Communications, which specializes in reaching the affluent consumer, says most don't want editorial that seems exclusive of them. "You can modify your pitch so that it's vague enough to be inclusive," he adds.

You can also leverage such groups as the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association to find out if a mainstream outlet has gays or lesbians on staff. "You're probably going to have better reception with a gay editor or writer because they're more likely to take your call," Tumminello notes. "But keep in mind that in the end their decisions are going to be based on whether the story serves their whole readership."

Even a company announcing it's going to target the GLBT community can be a hook to get into the general business sections of many outlets. "If you get a hit with a story like that, gay readers are going to take note, and it's going to do a lot to build your client's reputation," Tumminello adds.

But whatever the client or product, you can't expect to capture the GLBT audience with a generic pitch. "This demographic responds to advertising and editorial that is directly aimed at them," says David Foucher, publisher and CEO of Edge Publications, which runs five GLBT-themed online outlets in the Northeast. "If a company makes the point that it is very interested in talking in any way, shape, or form to the gay community, it tends to respond in a very positive way."

It also helps to make sure your clients actually practice what they preach. "Often, people in the gay community will not only look at the value of a product, but also look at a company in terms of what it's doing for the community," says John Welton, supervisor with Voce Communications. "So if your client is active in the gay community and also getting stories placed in dedicated outlets like Out or The Advocate, you're going to get a lot more bang for your buck."

Technique tips


Be inclusive. A press release with just heterosexual references won't resonate with this market

Target the right mainstream outlets. Certain publications have a much higher percentage of gay readers than others

Practice what you preach. Being seen as supportive of GLBT issues can make your messages far more effective


Lump gay men and lesbians together in one pitch. In general, they have different interests

Assume you know this demographic. Reach out to a gay and lesbian agency to help craft messages and media targets

Ignore gay parents. There are myriad new opportunities for forward-thinking companies with parenting or children's products

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