— Ferguson Solidarity (@FergusonUnity) August 18, 2014
Ferguson, MO, the town that is roiling with protests and racial strife after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of the police, has hired a PR firm, Common Ground Public Relations for communications help.
In comments to Talking Points Memo, Nina Kult, a Common Ground rep, makes it abundantly clear that the firm is only handling the deluge of media requests that the city has been getting since protests began about a week ago. Or at least that’s all they’ll talk about.
“We’re just handling media relations as of very recently and that’s really all we’re doing. We’re just handling media queries and that’s all I can really say right now,” Kult is quoted saying.
Chances are, the number of media inquiries is more than the city has ever had to deal with. A suburb of St. Louis, the town is now basically the subject of round-the-clock coverage on major outlets, including MSNBC, The New York Times and The Huffington Post.
Continuing with the close scrutiny of all the goings on, TPM notes that the Common Ground’s “Meet The Team” page is populated by an entirely White staff. Oh geez.
As The Washington Post makes clear, the world is watching what’s happening in Ferguson right now, as well as the response from the American people and those in charge. With so many questions about the investigation and the police force’s aggressive response — the “militarization” of the nation’s police officers is now a hot topic — it stands to reason that tons of media outlets would like firsthand feedback from authorities in Ferguson.
“There are plenty of foreign journalists reporting on Ferguson, however, and for them, Ferguson is international news,” WaPo writes. “Their coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent unrest can offer a refreshing viewpoint on America’s many problems. They can also reveal a lot about how such disturbances are viewed at home.”
Judging by their poor handling of the media on the ground, this city can use all the help they can get. It has no clue. And there’s only so much a PR firm can help if the city continues to behave the way it has been towards citizens and the media.
And certainly, race is separate from the skills that Common Ground brings to the table. Given this situation, the firm could be totally qualified to handle a big media relations project. But, to TPM’s point, with race a big factor in this case, choosing a firm so lacking in diversity is eye catching. It’s also a reminder to firms that having diversity — not just gender diversity but racial diversity, diversity of experience, in sexual orientation, so on and so forth — is critical.
According to the firm’s website, they specialize in crisis management, messaging, media relations and social media, among other things.