Case Study

Out & Equal


Out & Equal is the only nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to workplace equality for LGBT business professionals. Out & Equal contracted LCI to raise its public profile among the global, national and regional press. As marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is considered inevitable in the U.S., it is surprising to find that LGBT employees can still be fired in 29 states based solely on their sexual orientation and in 32 states based on their gender identity. In addition, being LGBT is a punishable offense in nearly 80 countries.

Each year, Out & Equal holds its annual Workplace Summit, the largest global conference dedicated to LGBT workplace equality issues. It is a cornerstone event for Out & Equal, acting as a central part of their fundraising and relationship-building efforts. LCI developed a strategic PR plan to maximize exposure surrounding the Workplace Summit and beyond as part of an extensive PR campaign.


LCI developed a program for promoting the Workplace Summit, Out & Equal and the organization’s founder and chief executive officer, Selisse Berry. In addition to the promotion of the Workplace Summit itself, this program involved the following components:

  • Harris Poll: Creation and promotion of Out & Equal’s annual Harris Poll which gauges workplace attitudes and perceptions of the LGBT community.
  • Marriage Equality Study: PR support of a joint study (released at the Workplace Summit) with Freedom to Marry about the financial burden incurred by companies due to inconsistent marriage laws.
  • Executive Positioning: Op-ed and bylined articles authored by Selisse Berry.
  • PSA: PSA authored and developed by LCI and Out & Equal to draw attention to the lack of legal and state protections for LGBT employees.
  • Partnerships: Promotion of partnerships with corporations such as Wells Fargo, Disney and Deloitte.
  • Expert Positioning: Pitch Selisse as an expert spokesperson on topics related to LGBT workplace equality.
  • Foundation Work: Messaging and media training prior to the campaign.
  • Media Sponsorship: Sponsorship with San Francisco Business Times included an entire issue devoted to the top 25 LGBT-owned businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On the morning of October 30, one week prior to the Workplace Summit, Apple CEO Tim Cook officially came out as a gay man. It had been long-rumored that Apple CEO Tim Cook was gay but he had not publicly announced his sexual orientation until this day. This news set off a firestorm of press attention and coverage, which presented an opportunity to position Selisse Berry as an expert thought leader on LGBT workplace issues.

LCI immediately leveraged existing messaging to develop a press statement and plan of action to pitch national and regional press. LCI proactively contacted more than 100 global, national and regional outlets, offering the opportunity to interview Selisse to comment on the state of LGBT business professionals and the industry as a whole.

The expert positioning campaign surrounding the Tim Cook announcement coupled with the PR efforts surrounding the Harris Poll, Marriage Equality Survey, PSA and Workplace Summit itself, led to unprecedented coverage for not only the Workplace Summit but also Out & Equal and Selisse Berry. These efforts have significantly raised the profile for Out & Equal within five months.


  • LCI secured more than 200 million impressions related to Tim Cook’s announcement. Coverage was secured in leading national business publications such as USA Today (two articles), Time, Fortune, Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News, among others.
  • San Francisco Chronicle published an op-ed piece on workplace equality for LGBT employees, authored by Selisse.
  • Forbes is publishing a bylined article on inequality in the workplace.
  • Media Sponsorship: Sponsorship with San Francisco Business Times included an entire issue devoted to the top 25 LGBT-owned businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Selisse was interviewed by the ABC (TV and radio) and FOX TV affiliates in San Francisco, as well as by CNN International.
  • The high-profile visibility resulting from LCI’s efforts carried over into the Workplace Summit, leading to coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Business Times, among others.
  • Harris Poll results were included in Forbes and Huffington Post.
  • Marriage equality survey results were included in Lone Star Q, LGBT Weekly, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, among others.
  • Over the past five months alone, press coverage for Out & Equal has nearly doubled.
  • The 16th Annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit was its largest and most successful to date with more than 3,200 attendees (a 20 percent year-over-year increase) representing over 500 organizations and 30 countries.

“Excellent job, everyone! Very happy about all the great press for us and the Summit! Thanks to all!”
–Selisse Berry, Chief Executive Officer, Out and Equal

Top 25 LGBT Businesses from the San Francisco Business Journal

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