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Writing a global wrong in LGBT+ media

The Challenge

How do you create and launch the first truly global news organisation devoted to news for and about LGBT+ people?

Out of a global population of 7.5bn, it’s estimated that between 300m and 700m people identify as LGBT+. Yet being an LGBT+ person is still illegal in 73 countries. And it’s punishable by death in 14.

Even mainstream media aimed at the LGBT+ community is in fact biased towards affluent gay men over other LGBT+ groups. Up to this point, no news outlet has published news for the entire LGBT+ community. This is especially true for those living in countries where homosexuality is illegal, or nations where gay propaganda laws encourage homophobia.

In this case, no news is very bad news, so the Thomson Reuters Foundation came to FleishmanHillard Fishburn (FHF) to create a brand and launch campaign for the world’s first news platform dedicated to under-reported LGBT+ news from around the globe.

The Solution

Introducing Openly, impartial LGBT+ news for a world that isn’t.

We set about launching a news and information platform created by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, with the aim of becoming the ultimate source of LGBT+ news around the world and giving voice to the issues and discrimination they face.

Launch events were held in New York during the United Nations General Assembly week and in London the following week, attracting hundreds of influencers and media.

We hit the world’s most popular commercial intersection – Times Square – and turned it into the world’s biggest newspaper, using ad space on the Thomson Reuters building to display shocking, homophobic media headlines from around the globe.

All of this was timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly in New York and National Coming Out Day in London, and the resultant coverage was both widespread and positive.

The Results

The coming out wasn’t just a hit. Today, it’s breaking barriers.

Since its launch, Openly content is now taken by and running across 750 broadcasters in 115 countries and over 1,000 newspaper groups and digital publishers.

It reached 118 million readers in 48 countries, including Russia, Uganda, Bangladesh, Qatar, Turkey, Pakistan, Jordan, Israel and Malaysia in the three months following its launch, and has undoubtedly secured its objective of becoming a credible and trustworthy voice.

The United Nations’ Human Rights Officer, Fabrice Houdart, has described Openly as having made a “significant difference to the lives of LGBT+ people”.

The campaign was named “Best Equality and Inclusion Cause Campaign” by PR Week’s Campaigns for Good Awards 2019 and “World’s Best Not-For-Profit PR Campaign” by ICCO Global Awards 2019.

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