As protests rage on, city of Ferguson hires PR firm

Critics have noted that the firm, Common Ground PR, appears to have an entirely white staff.

Though the atmosphere calmed briefly last Thursday night, tensions have once again escalated in Ferguson, Missouri, between police and people protesting the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Monday night’s events included the arrest of more journalists, as well as a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor.

Presumably to stem the tide of the intense criticism of the St. Louis County and Ferguson police’s handling of the protests and the shooting of Brown, the city has hired a PR firm to field questions from the press. Common Ground PR announced its role on Twitter on Monday:

​That tweet led to a barrage of questions, none of which Common Ground had answered as of early Tuesday.

Here’s one such question:

Talking Points Memo posted a screenshot of Common Ground’s staff page, noting that the seven people pictured there are all white. In a situation in which mostly black protestors are clashing with mostly white police over the shooting death of a young, black man, race is something that is difficult to ignore.

Common Ground senior account executive Nina Kult declined to say anything about the racial makeup of the firm’s staff when TPM asked her about it. Instead, she reiterated the message from the firm’s tweet:

“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.”

It’s hard to make any judgments at the moment about how Common Ground will handle PR for Ferguson, given that the firm has done nothing but announce its role, but it’s coming into an already difficult crisis situation with a major strike against it.

Its silence on Twitter doesn’t seem to be helping, either:

Readers, how should Common Ground publicly address the diversity issue? What should it be saying on Twitter?

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