Lendale Johnson is the world’s first openly-gay professional tennis player. In his second month as a client for Otter PR, we were able to generate a comprehensive viral media campaign for Lendale to help him land additional coverage in global media outlets. Within a matter of weeks, his story was picked up and shared by many other prestigious names in the world of professional tennis, including Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
Lendale approached us as a former reality TV star, as well as a professional tennis athlete. Although he had received some minor press coverage in the past, he wanted to further expound upon his media exposure and get his story out into the world to help inspire others to come out.
As the first openly-gay professional tennis player in the world, Lendale knew he possessed a particularly unique story. Because of his struggles as a gay athlete, he also knew that he wanted to tell his story to help prove that being gay does not remove any opportunities as an athlete.
Our team immediately recognized the uniqueness of Lendale’s story and the value it could offer to not only professional athletes, but also the broader LGBTQ+ community. With a clear understanding of this value, we began pitching Lendale’s story to numerous media outlets, including many prestigious print and digital publications, television news outlets, podcasts, and more.
In forming our strategy to help Lendale share his story with a broader audience, we discovered that we could pitch his story to reporters and journalists in the news fields of sports, mental health, LGBTQ+, and several other key topics. By framing Lendale as the world’s first openly-gay tennis player, we were able to maximize his coverage opportunities in media, leading to incredibly successful results.
In less than two months of working with Otter PR, Lendale’s story was picked up by major sports publications. From there, it quickly went viral, gaining the interest of the world’s top tennis stars, including Roger Federer, who made a public statement about Lendale and his bravery.
Upon achieving this win for Lendale, he was offered multiple invitations and opportunities to speak with television news stations, as well as a host of interviews with other top-tier outlets and publications. However, Lendale eventually decided to forego seeking additional media coverage so he could instead focus on continuing his career as a professional tennis star.