Reporter Profile: Heather Cassell, Trailblazing Voice of LGBTQ+ Journalism

February 7, 2024

Heather Cassell’s career as an acclaimed journalist has been a journey of pavement-pounding determination and hard-won recognition spanning over 30 years. Based in San Francisco, she covers domestic and international LGBTQ+ news stories and travel,along with a myriad of other topics, with a focus on underrepresented voices and social justice issues. Heather’s passion for writing took root at a young age and has since flourished into a force for change, as she uses her pen to illuminate the stories of those often unheard.

From Classroom Press Freedom Battles to National Cover Stories

Heather has always loved writing. As a young girl growing up in California, she spent hours crafting stories and poems. And it was in high school that Heather first found her calling: journalism.

She joined the student newspaper staff during her freshman year. Eager to learn, Heather threw herself into every aspect of production. When censorship threatened to shutter the paper, she joined protests defending the free press. Her impassioned letter to the editor of the local newspaper helped reverse the decision. The experience lit a fire in Heather.

After graduating, Heather sought opportunities to hone her skills. She interned at pioneering lesbian magazines in San Francisco, like Deneuve, now known as the critically lauded Curve Magazine. Surrounded by pioneering voices, Heather found mentors who believed in elevating marginalized stories. She contributed articles covering the local community.

Cub reporter Heather Cassell and fellow students handing out their high school newspaper

In the 1990s, Heather conceptualized her most ambitious story yet. She conducted nationwide interviews on the impacts of HIV/AIDS on women. Her three-profile cover story in feminist magazine HUES was heralded. For the first time, a major publication shined a light on this overlooked group. The acclaim cemented her conviction in impactful journalism.

Today, armed with ample experience and countless clips, Heather freelances for various publications, primarily writing for the Bay Area Reporter, where she covers news stories with an LGBTQ+ angle. With her regular travel features, she promotes queer-friendly international destinations and raises awareness about human rights issues in the global community with her international news column. Through her dual focus on activism and travel, Heather educates audiences and advocates for progress worldwide.

Strategies for Successful Pitching to Heather Cassell

As a journalist working a multifaceted beat from travel to LGBTQ+ issues to intersectional social justice causes, Heather receives a deluge of daily pitches. PR professionals aiming to capture her attention should keep a few key points in mind. 

Heather at 13 years old practicing for a life in media at ABC Studios in NYC

Given Heather’s focus on giving voice to LGBTQ+ stories, pitches should highlight legal angles, community profiles or travel destinations that resonate with this audience. Additionally, showcasing familiarity with her body of work and using respectful terminology acknowledges her work and expertise.

Targeting the appropriate email address for the specific pitch is also crucial, as Heather covers diverse beats. Overly promotional or off-topic pitches are less likely to stand out. Building rapport through genuine conversation is key to forming productive relationships with Heather. Unique story ideas and edgy angles are more likely to capture her attention, as her primary goal is to amplify impactful narratives. Even in her role as a travel writer, she seeks out experiences that are more rooted in local culture and activism than jet-setting luxury.

By recognizing Heather’s long standing commitment to LGBTQ+ journalism and adhering to her pitching guidelines, PR professionals can support her mission to elevate critical stories and advocate for progress.
Keep up with Heather’s writing at Girls That Roam or catch her work in the Bay Area Reporter.

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About the author

Carole Barrow is public relations and content director at Bospar, specializing in tech clients spanning diverse sectors, including proptech, fintech, HR tech, SaaS, cybersecurity, AI, lifestyle, hospitality and nonprofit organizations. With over 15 years in communications and PR, Carole has an unwavering passion for amplifying underrepresented voices and advocating for gender equality within the industry. Carole has directed media relations and PR efforts for San Francisco Pride over the past two years, further solidifying her dedication to ensuring that marginalized communities have a platform to be heard. Her previous roles as a journalist and magazine editor have equipped her to craft compelling narratives and secure impactful media coverage.

 

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