This exploratory qualitative case study examines the role of participatory media in nonprofit public relations. Through a case study of the “It Gets Better Project,” this research examines how nonprofit organizations can provide a platform for publics to amplify their voices, and in turn how publics can work to carry forth the message of a movement. This research contributes to academic and practical understandings of online strategies used to promote advocacy and outreach for social change. The main inquiry guiding this research is an exploration of how nonprofits are using digital media strategically in ways that facilitate engagement with constituents and which empower publics to carry forth the work of an organization. This article argues that participatory media, particularly YouTube, are powerful platforms for nonprofit organizations that can function as a tool of empowerment and amplification when working with marginalized publics.


This research employed discourse analysis of news articles, press releases, social media content, and YouTube videos from the online advocacy campaign “It Gets Better Project” from Sept. 2010 to Jan. 2013.

Key Findings

  • Each social media channel has a unique architecture that guides communication activity and content best suited for each particular space
  • YouTube is a platform for information dissemination, story sharing, and community building
  • Participatory media provide an interconnected digital landscape where publics and organizations can engage in content creation and consumption

Implications for Practice

The amplification concept can help public relations professionals harness and channel the energy of activist publics in ways that are beneficial for both the organization and the public. Nonprofit organizations can utilize technology in ways that amplify the voices of people to tell their own stories. In doing so, advocacy organizations can empower individuals and groups to embody and carry the mission of an organization.

Article Location

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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