PRWeek asked LGBT media relations and marketing experts why they believe Apple CEO Tim Cook picked Bloomberg Businessweek to write a personal essay acknowledging his sexual orientation.
They all cited one reason Cook likely picked that outlet: his coming out is as much a business story as a personal one.
In terms of the pitch itself, Josh Tyrangiel, who oversees all editorial content at Bloomberg Media, said on Bloomberg TV that the process was simple.
"He was very clear on what he wanted. He called and asked me [to come to California], and we had a conversation, and he had something written and it was crisp and clear. Frankly, I hope he’s available for more assignments going forward," Tyrangiel said on Bloomberg Surveillance. "He knew what he wanted to say, and at a certain point, there’s not that much more that’s necessary."
The strategy is similar to that of the late Steve Jobs, who took a hands-on approach to Apple’s media relations and would often pitch journalists himself, according to Golin CEO Fred Cook, who worked with Pixar more than a decade ago.
Here’s why prominent communications experts with experience with LGBT issues said Cook called Bloomberg Businessweek.
Howard Bragman, chairman and founder of Fifteen Minutes:
"I think he wanted to make it a business story. Tim is a very smart man, who understands he is the CEO of the biggest company in the world by business capital. Why Businessweek? – that’s a nuanced question for his PR team. It might be relationship-based. The more important thing is that it was done in a business publication.
When I worked with Michael Sam to come out, we did it in sports publications.
Apple operates in a lot of countries not sophisticated on gay rights, so it’s a huge deal internationally, when he goes to Middle Eastern companies, or goes to Russia, it opens up a dialogue."
Jeff Koo, senior director of digital lifestyle and LGBT practice groups at Sparkpr:
"It makes total sense that Cook published in Bloomberg Businessweek. A CEO of his stature needs to address the public as a member of the business community, not as a celebrity. He probably also genuinely likes the publication and reads it daily.
Kudos to Cook for coming out. Silicon Valley and business in general can be a very closeted environment and this move is a major moment in American business and society in general. I wish it weren’t news but that’s the world we live in today."
Stephen Macias, SVP and LGBT practice lead at MWW:
"Tim Cook's piece acknowledging that he is gay in Businessweek is an important step for LGBT people across the globe. As the CEO of a global mega-brand, his acknowledgment that he is gay underscores that being out and a successful business leader is not a mutually exclusive reality. Coming out in Businessweek sends a powerful message to the business community about the importance of diversity and inclusion the workplace."
Tom Whitman, SVP of Flip:
"Because [Cook’s] coming out is a seismic shift in how the business world sees itself, it makes sense to speak the words in a publication like Bloomberg Businessweek. In this article, Tim has framed his coming out as a business story – how it made him a better CEO. And that’s a wonderful perspective, among the millions of other perspectives, on what it means to be gay.
Coming out in the LGBT press used to be the norm, and for a long time, that was newsworthy. But we’ve moved beyond that as a culture. As Tim said, "The world has changed so much." Had he come out in an interview with OUT Magazine, there would have been a resounding shrug within the LGBT community, and the story would have been about his personal life. This story illustrates how being gay has informed Tim’s success as a CEO, and how it is one facet in a rich and diverse life."