Public altercations and feuds can lead to trouble. When two high profile officials, celebrities or companies disagree, the public is most likely to take a side. The key is to be likeable. It is usually a good idea to not be the challenger, but when publicly challenged, it is best to weigh all possible outcomes when deciding on a response.
Sometimes, intentionally not responding could be a viable option. If the story isn’t gaining significant attention and all other responses would paint you in a negative light or validate a false claim, this could be a good case for the zipped lip. Most of the time, however, you will need to respond to a claim or public disgruntlement with a proper response. When formulating the response, the goal should be that all stakeholders are satisfied and that little room is left for the opposite party to continue their claims or “win”.
This week, we believe that South Carolina Senator and GOP presidential candidate Lindsey Graham won. On Tuesday, after a nasty rant attacking Senator Graham’s intelligence, presidential candidate Donald Trump proceeded to read aloud the personal cell phone number of Graham to his crowd in Graham’s home of South Carolina.
While Graham got his words in as well, calling Trump a “jackass”, the real victory was on the Internet. With a YouTube video, the senator was able to gain serious credibility, humor points and likeability, ultimately winning the Graham versus Trump battle. The video titled, “How to Destroy Your Cell Phone with Sen. Lindsey Graham” has already racked up more than a million views in a little over twenty-four hours, a rare feat for a politician attempting humor.
Senator Graham’s Twitter feed even featured smaller clips from the video showing him destroying his cell phone in many different dramatic ways including a meat cleaver, a golf club and even smashing it with a brick. To top it off, Senator John McCain got in on the action to have his own last laugh after Trump questioned whether Sen. John McCain–who spent five years as a prisoner during the Vietnam War– is a war hero.
Overall, the public reaction to the video showed that a creative response was a smart move. The decision to make that video was a witty way to turn a possible firestorm into an opportunity. The public feud earned Senator Lindsey Graham the right kind of attention.