What’s Going On With Visit Philadelphia’s LGBT Marketing?

A scene from the Miss Richfield Visit Philly commercial.

A scene from the Miss Richfield Visit Philly commercial.

If you’ve even been partially involved in the Philly gay scene, you know Bruce Yelk‘s name. He’s been at the helm of Visit Philadelphia’s gay marketing department for a number of years, and produced what is arguably the most recognizable commercial advertising the city’s gay tourism:

However, Yelk’s position was eliminated after 13 years on the job, which has created some legitimate concern for members of the Philadelphia LGBTQ community. The perception, at least from the outside, is that there appears to be a LGBT vacuum within the Visit Philly organization.

When I spoke with Yelk, he emphasized that his position was eliminated, but that during his tenure, he created one of “the most successful campaigns” within the organization and wondered why, given the robust LGBTQ tourism in the city, Visit Philly wouldn’t “put more money into it.” In a farewell email he sent last week, Yelk highlighted his accomplishments:

“In 2003, when we started marketing to the LGBT segment Philadelphia was not a ‘Top 20’ city visited by the LGBT traveler – today it is a ‘Top 10’ city…There have been so many amazing moments from releasing the 1st LGBT TV commercial for a U.S. destination to being recognized with several awards for the marketing efforts. I will always cherish those moments when I attended a conference and Philadelphia’s LGBT marketing efforts were recognized as the case study presented….I am also proud to end on a such a strong note as 2015 has been my best year ever with over 2,200 stories on LGBT Philadelphia alone.”

Paula Butler, the Vice President of Visit Philadelphia’s Communications division, confirmed that Yelk’s position was eliminated as part of a “reorganization of public relations.”

“Our commitment to the gay market has not changed one bit,” Butler said. “We’re accessing manpower in communications, and the LGBT market is extremely important to us.” She also claimed that the organization will be announcing a new media relations position.

“They’ll have gay and other media under them,” she said. “We’re evaluating all of that.”

Butler also claimed that the staff who managed the gay Facebook account are still employed by Visit Philly, and that other members of the organization are involved with gay marketing.

“If anything, it’s expanding what we’re doing across all areas,” said Butler. “We’re covering it, but in a different way.”