Launching the Common Sense Communications Revolution

There have been a few events/circumstances that occurred recently, which have prompted me to consider starting a new movement. Who’s with me?

“What is it?” you are asking? Well, I would like to propose a new direction/focus to the practice of Public Relations and call it…Common Sense Communications. I think it might better explain what we do and how we personally approach the discipline as it relates to our clients and life in general.

A client called recently with a potential crisis at its facility, which was brought to their attention by a customer. Without providing all the important information to us, they called to ask, “What should we do about it?”  Now, I have an amazing team and we all had the same question all at once for that client. Any guesses? You’re probably right. Our immediate response was, “Is it true?” They told us they needed to get back to us to see if it was true. We waited and waited with multiple e-mails coming through without any straight answer to the question, unable to formulate any kind of strategy.

I can understand and empathize what it’s like to be in the client’s position, in the middle of a serious problem, on one hand trying to fix the situation and on the other, trying to halt any damages to their reputation and business. But for us, or any PR agency worth its salt, we can’t provide counsel or create a sound strategy until we have all the facts and know what’s true and what’s false.

I could go on and on, but the point being when these types of situations arise, I immediately think: 1) what is the truth? 2) What is the common sense approach to our next step? My goal is to help simplify what can seem like an overwhelming process for ourselves, our client and the situation at hand.

While this was going on, the state in which I was born and raised has had a national disaster on its hands with the Flint water crisis. Our Governor hired a PR firm, which was a smart move. A little late in the process, but a good decision nonetheless. And while I don’t doubt Mercury PR’s experience and capabilities, I do wonder if the fact that they are not from our state as well as the agency’s name gave anyone pause for consideration? (Cue the late night talk show puns

That said, I wasn’t in the Governor’s War Room and I am not advocating to be. But it seems at face value, that he didn’t use, Common Sense Communications until he HAD to. And just when I thought he might be making the right decision? This photo shows up in all of our news feeds.


A group of officials proud of themselves for signing a bill for additional, much needed funds for the Flint residents. Two vital things are missing from this photo and we can debate which one is more important: Empathy and Diversity. Again, I revert back to using common sense when it comes to the decision making process. Did we need a “grip and grin” photo for him to approve these funds? Or at least hold this photo opp in Flint rather than Grand Rapids? Based on the social media outpouring of disgust, I think he has his answer.

Even weeks after the flint crisis had begun, we had multiple calls probably two or three a week, from new business prospects, asking us how much media attention we could generate for them if they start a water drive for Flint. You know how many new clients I have from those calls? None. I advised them to do the drive….. only if they really, truly wanted to help. Post on your social media channels, e-newsletters, websites, etc. that you are supporting the efforts. But please don’t ask a Common Sense Communicator to garner media attention because you are doing a “buy a case of water and we will donate a case of water.”

Something I counsel my clients on regularly is their charitable partnerships. It is an important element for any company to give back to the community where you do business. But public relations garnered for those partnerships and donations need to be secondary, not the primary reason for giving. Give because you believe it’s the right thing to do, not for the attention it might bring.

Our clients hire us for our resources, knowledge, expertise and ability to generate results. But our secret sauce is simple and I am happy to share it. Common Sense Communications. Join the revolution.

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