A Corporate Coming Out: Crisis Communication and Engagement with LGBT Publics
Special Section: BREAKING THE RULES
Keywords:crisis communication, crisis management, activist relations, community relations, employee relations
In light of the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States in June 2015, this case study provides a historical examination of one of the first corporate engagements with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) publics. In this case, readers are presented with a historical case of crisis communication and LGBT publics, with examples that demonstrate how an organization can turn a moment of crisis and organizational mishandling to become a corporate leader in LGBT relations. At a time when public opinion toward LGBT people and issues was low, American Airlines broke social and economic rules with game-changing strategic communication. Key findings from this research demonstrate the importance of understanding internal and external publics, ethically engaging with marginalized publics, and setting the course for exemplary relations with marginalized publics. The American Airlines case serves as an example of spurring new research questions and new ways of thinking about strategic communication and LGBT issues and publics.