Marco Rubio Could Be You

Let the Marco Rubio-sipping-a-Poland-Spring moment on national television be a lesson to us all.

No matter what your politics are, it was a surprising moment when the U.S. Senator from Florida first glanced at his water bottle during his Republican response to the State of the Union Address the other night, then bent down on national television to grab the bottle and take a sip, mid-sentence.

Less than a decade ago, we would have seen it and then — poof — it would have been gone.

But today, embarrassing, awkward and even worse moments become sensations. They are repeated, remixed and retweeted, then discussed and dissected by, well, the universe. Just moments after Rubio reached for the water bottle, Twitter exploded with tweets about the awkward moment, the words “watergate” and “Poland Spring” immediately trending. Among my favorite tweets, by the way, was “Zero Dark Thirsty.”

And Twitter was just the beginning. Dozens of Rubio parody videos have been uploaded to YouTube, friends and family members are discussing the incident on Facebook, and the senator’s own political action committee, Reclaim America, is now offering a Marco Rubio water bottle to supporters for $25. It helps to poke fun at yourself.

Along the way, of course, the senator picked up 13,000 new followers on Twitter.

But the Rubio moment and its subsequent virality should be a wakeup call to those of us in the public relations business. Our videotaped school events and Board of Education meetings, superintendents’ speeches, Facebook posts, tweets and transparency are all good things.

But we need to remind ourselves and those who work in our districts that those moments are now etched in time, permanent examples of how we behave and what we say, photograph and write.

The Rubio incident is also a chance for us to remind those we work for how important it is to prepare well for public appearances, press conferences, speeches and presentations. That includes hydrating.

The world is watching. No one wants to end up on David Letterman’s Top Ten List.

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