Tiger Woods redux

Confession: I’ve been actively avoiding all this Tiger Woods talk or trying to at least. As a professional communicator and PR critic, it’s almost irresponsible for me to dodge this one. It’s not stractical. But there’s just something about intently following someone’s marital/extra-marital life, even if its one of the most celebrated superstars on the planet, that gives me the willies. The badvibes. The shivers down my spine. And while we don’t pass judgment on anything but the communications out here in Stractiville, I thought I should provide some context that leads into this:

I didn’t watch the 24 hour CNN coverage of a camera aimed at Tiger’s front door. I didn’t listen to the tawdry voicemail messages. I don’t know the names and back stories of his alleged mistresses. But I know a story broke. And I know I didn’t think much of it. But then this radio silence kept amplifying this minor traffic accident until there was no other possible explanation for the events besides a domestic disturbance. In a way, Tiger baited the media and set his own trap, not for employing a terrible crisis strategy, but by attempting multiple half-assed strategies: Keep silent, but make a statement. Express sullen remorse but lash out at the unscrupulous media attention. Speak of vague “transgressions” as a parade of mistress names roll across the news ticker. And I know there are more but these are just the few bleeding through the margins to someone actively avoiding this one. The PR strangeness is just too strong, it won’t let me escape.

I’ve read constructive PR and social media critiques here and here. The comparisons to the David Letterman strategy are particularly apt though Dave had two things going for him that Tiger lack: a sense of humour for the softening touch of self-deprecation and an hour a night on network television to fill.

I’m struggling to offer Tiger advice so I’ll be portentously reductionist:

Be stractical. That means giving the GOST treatment both short and long term. Ask the questions: What is my essential to my personal brand? Or more generally, what do I need? To continue to play professional golf at a high level? To sign and carry out endorsement deals? To keep my family together? Adoration from millions? — A multi-national corporation would rally around its raison d’etre in a crisis and so should you.

While this epic is far from over, we’ll prematurely award -65 stractical points to Team Tiger Woods and note the irony that the low score in golf wins.

And now, if you’ll excuse me.  I’ll get back to changing the channel.

Tiger in the rough

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2 Comments

  1. I liked your thoughts. I drafted a few of my own on my blog: http://cjonesworld.wordpress.com/

  2. This is a really great blog post. I think you’re right. He needs to sit down and reevaluate his personal brand. He has positioned himself as a clean-cut athlete and has pushed to keep this image – ie. lawsuits. What I feel he’s not grasping is that he can’t hold on to that image anymore. It’s evident there were extra marital affairs, and he’s not the ‘family guy’ he’s claimed to be. The public is very forgiving, as long as you don’t treat them like a bunch of idiots. Trying to plot, bribe and offer money to those involved will not make your image better, nor will it help Tiger’s clean-cut image. He needs to sit down and come clean with the public. Be open. Be honest. Be real. Tiger is an amazing athlete and if she just handles this crisis correctly, it will be nothing but a blurp in his past. But it won’t go away by paying people off or hoping it will past… it will just keep the public talking more. And he will never be able to hold on to his original clean-cut brand.

    Personally, I feel he needs to rebrand himself and stop trying to be so private. Athletes need to engage their audience and let their personality out. This is the perfect opportunity.


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