Last week, the water in the pool of Republican presidential candidates got a little hot. You’ve undoubtedly heard about Donald Trump divulging Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number to the world, and you probably heard about Graham’s retaliatory response. I don’t know what the political impact was, but from a public relations standpoint, Graham knocked it out of the park by opting for wit and humor instead of anger or sour grapes.
For a guy whose relationship with electronic communication has been portrayed as limited, he rose to the occasion like a pro, tweeting this:
I’m betting even The Donald laughed.
Then Graham released a mobile phone desecration guide on par with Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” (If you haven’t watched, you must.)
When someone attacks your company, your product, your service, or your brand, it’s only natural to want revenge. Even if you know that confrontation could be very public, very damaging, or very ugly, human instinct is to shoot first and ask questions later. Graham demonstrated keen strategy as well as impressive self-control in taking the high road in his light-hearted retort. Instead of getting even, he got creative. In doing so, he not only made his point, but he walked away with the upper hand, set a laudable example of good sportsmanship, and turned media attention his way for days.
That’s a PR win any way you look at it. And all those free phone replacement offers Graham likely received? An excellent example of seeing an opportunity and claiming it as your own. Stay tuned! The 2016 campaign will most assuredly continue to offer a ringside view of PR bull’s-eyes and bombshells.