Ocamb and Renna Talk About DC Marriage Coverage

A really nice interview, and very probing questions, with PR pro Cathy Renna at Karen Ocamb’s LGBT POV.  They talk about the media coverage–and media handling– leading up to the DC marriage launch.  Karen raises some great questions and Cathy talks about the PR efforts surrounding the first-day of marriage in DC.

KO: The first DC couple was so excited and real – did anyone work with them – or the other couples – to prepare them for the media onslaught and what was that coaching?

CR: It was a team effort. DC for Marriage and the Campaign for All DC Families have been doing outreach for months, HRC helped identify couples, some approached us and some just did this all on their own. It was a wonderfully organic and real process. That said, GLAAD came and did some media training with a few of the couples, in particular the ones who were married at the HRC building, invited by the Campaign for All DC Families.

One interesting point it that Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend did not intend to be “couple #1” and they handled the media’s obsession with “firsts” with dignity, grace and humor. They are my new heroes.

It was a priority for us to show that while the opposition tried to make this a race issue, there is a large, vibrant and active African-American LGBT community in DC and that argument just would not wash. The first 100 applicants look like our city, about half people of color, half women and from all over the city. Point made. And the media got it.

Karen also asked Cathy about the WaPo picture controversy and the courting of the WaPo Style section–which has a very mixed record when it comes to LGBT stories of late–to provide coverage of the event.

KO: On DC marriage day – the Washington Post (WaPo) ran a wonderful advancer on the first couple –  written by the same reporter who wrote the story on NOM’s Brian Brown. How did that happen? Was this an apology piece?

CR: I never kiss and tell (ok, advocate and tell) but there was a lot of work put into communicating with the [Washington Post] Style section. I was thrilled that Monica [Hesse] had the opportunity to write the piece and it was an extraordinary profile of a couple who exemplify why we are fighting this fight. That’s all I am saying.


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