During his rebuttal video to President Obama’s State of the Union address, which took place this past Tuesday, Republican Senator Marco Rubio unwittingly became the focus of ridicule on the internet after taking what many think was a foolish-looking sip of water. The video went viral, but rather than retreating shame-faced Rubio used the new-found public interest in his name as a form of self promotion.
Proving he has a sense of humour, Rubio responded to the sensationalism by tweeting a photo of the comically small bottle (shown here). The move paid off. The next day, Rubio had 13000 new twitter followers, and the following day, he was offering Marco Rubio water bottles free with a contribution to relaimamericapac.com, a conservation election site.
The attempts to ridicule Rubio actually strengthened his reputation by the way that he responded with humour and a sense of ease with the public. Rubio turned what could have been a public relations mishap into a benefit, and used it as a talking point to promote his own name and his party’s cause.
After all, humour at the expense of drinking water is rather limited, and interest in the video will soon die out. But, while the public is listening, Rubio has capitalized on the attention and turned it to his advantage by gaining social media followers and directing traffic to his party website.
This is a lesson that government officials, public servants, and anyone in a position of leadership would do well to remember: negative news, and even criticism, can be turned to advantage. Negative situations provide an opportunity to prove strength of character, and any advantage that can be wrung out of them is always good publicity.