TIGER’S NOT SO GRRREEAATT!!!

Tell it first, tell it yourself and tell it all. That is the tried and true formula for handling a messy public relations crisis in the smoothest possible way. I have been stunned by the level of amateur handlers who have dealt with Tiger Woods and his situation since he crashed his car at 2:30 A.M. last week while driving barefoot. By avoiding the media and the police, Tiger is turning a molehill into a mountain, giving every hungry reporter, paparazzi and investigative blogger an even bigger bounty to chase down the details of his not-so-perfect private life.

Public relations is not  a new concept, and as such I am perplexed over the lack of skill and precision that has taken place with the Woods matter.  As a result Woods has suffered damage to his personal brand.

First, no one in his situation should put out a statement to the press, as he did, that the rumors circulating were malicious and not true if in fact there was fire with the smoke.  

Second, do not ever say to the press that there are no more questions to be answered, and no more to be added to the story.  That is about the worst thing anyone can say to the press when there is indeed a boatload of more questions that needs to be answered.

Here are some quick points that Team Tiger must consider when crafting their next move in this complicated situation:

1) Take a note from David Letterman:
In America, the truth sets you free. Conversely, we remain slaves to that which is perceived to be deceitful. By being so stoic, Tiger Woods is doing himself no favors, and the public will ultimately get angry.

2) Tiger can conquer the world, but he can’t control it: Tiger Woods can demand that the world allow him to have privacy in his personal affairs, but the truth is that Woods has earned over a billion dollars by asking for the public’s attention. You can’t turn your fame on and off like a faucet.

3) Making a deal with the devil:
Tiger Woods was labeled to be squeaky clean and he gets paid as if he were squeaky clean. The big problem is that when the world finds out that you are only human, it’s going to cost you. Tiger is not quite the endorsement steal that he used to be, but he was probably never as perfect as his sponsors pretended that he was. In some ways, this might be a liberating experience for Tiger Woods.

4) Sports can’t quite conquer all: Tiger has earned roughly 10 percent of his billion dollar fortune playing golf. The rest has been earned with appearances, endorsements and other extra perks. So, the idea that Tiger can simply win on the golf course and make this all go away might be a bit flawed. The rules of financial gravity change when you are the greatest golfer that the world has ever seen.

Truth is, with a strong PR strategy, Woods’ scandal could present a hole in one to humanize his personal brand. Woods and the sports media have cultivated the image of a super-human athlete, but have kept his personal life mostly private. Tiger has always been in his own endorsement category. If he can humanize his brand it will provide an opportunity for him to authentically leverage his influence and garner major endorsements.

Tiger should humanize his brand via social media outlets, specifically with Twitter and real-time raw video. His Facebook presence has a polished and promotional tonality leaving fans wanting a glimpse behind-the-scenes. He’s been this untouchable perfect sports icon and fans, consumers think of him as a superhuman versus a real person. If he had allowed people to see the person behind the superstar personality, perceptions and expectations could have been different in recent events.

Obama said it best: “YES WE CAN.”  Tiger can use this scandal to humanize himself and essentially rebrand his image… just a thought. What do you think?

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8 Responses to “TIGER’S NOT SO GRRREEAATT!!!”

  1. Chris Cottick Says:

    I think you really got this right. Your David Letterman example is a great contrast to what Tiger did. I think Tiger actually thought he was going to get out of this one somehow. There was that rumor about him and another waitress, and when she denied that they had been having an affair, he probably thought he was clean and clear.

    It’s funny you mention the word “humanize” in describing what he can do to his image or brand. The man is a golfing machine. Seriously, who wins the U.S. open with a broken leg. In his interviews the man barely cracks a smile. He keeps to himself, and seriously seems super human. As you said this may be the first sign that he is in fact human and I agree he could take advantage. That being said, Tiger Woods is still the world’s greatest golfer. He will continue to win championships and make millions of dollars and I guess that’s all that really matters. Hopefully his PR crew can get their act together and we can remember him for putting balls into holes (get your mind out of the gutter).

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    • Good point. That’s the thing with sports. The public always eventually turns a blind eye when your gifted at what you do. Look at Kobe and the rape case. I’m sure if his PR teams get on top of it and proactively leverages this scandal to rebrand him, he’ll be fine… if he can keep up his performance. However, they need to be more proactive instead of reactive. And LOL, I had the same thought when I wrote he could have a hole in one…. just can’t get around it LOL

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  2. Marta Warner Says:

    “No Comment” is the same as “I’m Guilty”. Isn’t that PR 101?

    I was very shocked to see the lack of activity in Tiger’s camp. He’s a billion dollar sports icon! Surely he has some experienced representation behind his brand? Surely they’ve all handled crises before this? SURELY they know that lying, both directly and by omission, is not the way to handle a situation like this. Geez, I’m fresh out of PR school and I know that.

    I would encourage Tiger to take the road less traveled by when smoothing things over. How long will it be before we see him on Oprah or Larry King, telling “his side” of the story? While interviews will be integral (and necessary), he needs to reach out to his public immediately and on a personal level. After all – it’s Tiger’s fans that are buying the products he endorses.

    Social media is a great starting point, but humanizing the superhuman will be most effective when it is seen in the flesh. Charitable events, public outreach programs, community work; these could all be good options. But like everything, don’t do it unless you mean it.

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  3. […] 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 […]

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  4. I disagree with everyone.

    I don’t think the David Letterman model applies here. You have to remember that there was a car crash that sent Tiger to the hospital and a possible domestic violence investigation last Sunday. If the Woods family would have revealed too much there would have been an ugly domestic violence investigation. It’s possible Tiger’s wife would have been charged, not to mention the police would have released private photos, videotapes, statements, and recordings. This would have caused a full-blown meltdown.

    If anything, Tiger’s statements were poorly written and left the door wide for negative impressions and speculation. The media would not have a story if it wasn’t for the frightened mistress who hired Gloria Alred, and the cocktail waitress who gave the press a year’s supply of salacious material to keep the story going.

    Tiger has always kept a private life. He should maintain that structure because it works for him and his family. In the long run, he will be respected for not giving in to the media pressure even if he loses a few endorsements. As long as Tiger plays well, he will overcome this incident.

    I would not engage in social media on a private matter. I believe it will only backfire and fuel this story. PR counselors seem to forget that social media is two-way communication and has to be controlled and monitored.

    I wrote more on my blog: http://cjonesworld.wordpress.com/

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  5. The one thing that bothers me is how much prominence it received on mainstream media. It superceded many other important and relevant issues in the news (not the sports section, the whole news). But, then again, the media is just catering to the consumer.

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  6. I agree that Tiger has not at all handled this situation well. David Letterman is a prime example of how to deal with a sticky situation. Letterman addressed the issue, gave his apologies and all was basically forgiven. The media did not hound him like they’re doing to Tiger. And this is because Tiger is being quiet. Whether or not Tiger has held a private life in the past doesn’t mean continuing to do so now will help him. Tiger doesn’t have to reveal too much about his private life to make a statement. All he needs to do is address the situation and apologize. This is all the media is asking for.

    I disagree that “if the Woods family would have revealed too much there would have been an ugly domestic violence investigation.” We don’t know this. The whole domestic violence aspect is speculative. What is for sure is that many women are coming forward with affair allegations and some are being paid off to stay quiet. What is also for sure is that Tiger needs to either listen to his PR people or get new ones, because right now he’s not looking so good

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  7. Great post. I think that Tiger Woods has been ‘outed’ and it’s not always a pretty picture. We’re only human and I think because he was seen as the “honest super hero celebrity” he’s getting the whiplash hard.

    I think Tiger Woods needs all the help he can get. A lot of celebrities are speak out about this situation and are not helping the damage that has been created.

    On Ellen – celebrity – Steve Harvey mentioned that Woods was a person he wanted to meet dearly. However after everything he chooses not too. The full interview: http://musicblips.dailyradar.com/video/kicking-him-while-he-s-down-steve-harvey-relationship/

    I feel bad for Wood’s wife and family in general. It’s not something that should be glorified – it’s a terrible situation.

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