Tiger Woods doing bad PR job on his PR disaster

Tiger Woods

As a PR counselor, I’ve analysed thousands of PR gaffes for my book and prdisasters.com blog and, as I see it, the main mistake being made by Tiger Woods and his advisers is failing to understand the new media landscape’s hunger for every little detail. Smoke and mirrors simply don’t work any more, T. And as long as Woods offers up trite and hollow-sounding expressions of remorse – without providing any substantive clarification or admission – new media interests will continue to pursue the story until they get what they want. To effectively manage the issue, Woods or his advisers’ game plan must include the three R’s of crisis managementRegret, Responsibility and Remedial action. But I reckon there’s an added new rule of reputation management (driven mainly by Web2.0), which means that a fourth R – REAL applies. For me, Woods must move towards honesty and “Get Real”. Platitudes the wrong attitude! Woods’ (or his advisers’) attempts to ‘soft shoes shuffle’ the issue away is a rookie mistake. The longer Tiger takes to come clean and address the allegations in a responsible and genuine way, the longer the issues will play out in our ever-expanding, ever intrusive media. I’m also a bit concerned that Tiger Woods reputation management plans are being driven by lawyers, who may not be best qualified to counsel the golfer in the court of public opinion. Add to that, the fact that Woods previously unblemished reputation as one of the world’s nicest guys, actually works against him as those others involved air their dirty laundry over the matter. As the history of modern publicity crises – including Martha Stewart, Hugh Grant, Kobe Bryant and even the Catholic Church – demonstrate, the cleaner you purport or seem to be, the heavier the fall you take when the stuff hits the fan. For God’s sake tiger! What’s going on with the language used in the ‘media’ statement? Most audiences (particularly media commentators) seem unmoved by the quasi-religious tenor of Tiger Woods statements to date. Words such as “transgressions”, “confessions” and “personal sins” that may be intended to convey spiritual conscience do little to slake a desperate media’s thirst for the essence, the nitty gritty, of the allegations. And they will uncover ever sordid little secret that’s out there T. It could take a while too.

Tiger Woods must move to restore his credibility and a front foot position at a time when various other ‘players’ in the drama that is his personal life are coming to the fore. They are getting traction, while Tiger is being judged by inaction. I, Gerry McCusker, conclude that Woods might want to take control by fronting up to the media and public with an admission, some heartfelt contrition and tangible evidence that he’s prepared to address any problems or challenges in his life. As a fearless (and much-loved for it) sporting celebrity, this would reflect the kind of bravery and congruence the golfer’s adoring public expect from their idol.

3 thoughts on “Tiger Woods doing bad PR job on his PR disaster

  1. Wow Gerry, strong stuff. We’ve had this argument before I know and will never agree with each other, but let’s for argument sake consider the possibility that Tiger, like many people, doesn’t actually mind sleeping around a bit. In fact, he quite enjoys sex and like many millions of real people the world over, will quite likely give into temptation and have sex again, maybe with someone who isn’t his current or ex-wife. What then?

    Your plan sets him up for an almighty fall for a second time, which makes recovery that much harder. And seriously, you think if he followed your advice he wouldn’t have journos and paparazzi following him around 24/7 for years waiting for the fall?

    The Tiger image is not based in reality. This is a man who publicly throws his golf clubs around like no other golfer before, who has no difficulty in cursing in public, who has had spats with numerous other golfers and has shown some impatience with officials and even media from time to time.

    You talk about “Real” but you seem to want a personality change and for him to become someone else, someone who meets the narrowly defined perfection that has been created around him, mostly by external forces.

    Tiger Woods is not just a commercial entity, he’s also a real human being. Is what you advise about the person or about the endorsements and commercial cost? And which do you think is more important?



  2. I speak as the man in the street. I regarded Tiger Woods as a sporting hero, which means to me he was the best at golf, a strong character and a man of integrity. I could point to Tiger Woods to a small child and say “this is what heros are made of”.

    After weeks of bad publicity I see Tiger Woods as a sleazeball, weak and a failure.

    I see the handling of public relations by Tiger Woods as like the carnage that comes from throwing a fox into a hut full of chickens, a total disaster.

    I am now unable to point to Woods to a child as a “hero”. All brands will now be challenged in enhancing their product with Tiger Woods.


  3. I think that tiger should come out and give us som information like if he slept with all those girls or if there lying and he only slept with some the sooner he does the sooner the media will leave him alone and go on to another scandal. I think that we let celebrities off easy sometimes like chris browns situation another person would have got jail time but because he is a celebrity he got off with just community service. we do hold celebrities to higher standard which is wrong because we want them to be perfect and there not there human just like the rest of us!!


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