Tiger Woods; don't do a Gary Coleman on your PR comeback

In a carefully orchestrated and palpably controlled way, Tiger Woods is facing a selection of hand-picked media journalists to explain the emotional car-crash that constitutes his life. It’s unlikely to feel real. Unlike mini, ex-child star Gary Coleman’s foul-mouthed rant to a journo who baited and provoked him to sensational effect. Not that you’re listening to me Tiger, but please don’t repeat Gary’s PR disaster.

First proper PR disaster of 2010?

Another ex-journalist-turned-PR is at the centre of a whale fishing/spy scandal PR disaster in Australia, proving that a decent hack doth not a good flack make! IMHO, it’s often professionally flexible ex-journos who give PR practitioners a bad name.

Despite allegations that the New Zealand PR lied to the air charter companies when booking charter flights for his pro-whaling Japanese clients, this high-flying “PR” has remained non-contactable since the story broke. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/01/06/2786632.htm

Thanks to Mr Lexus for the nod. Readallabahtit!

Worst PR disasters 2009 – call for entries

Yep, after a lifetime of near-saintly posturing, Tiger W has decided that he wants to win the marketing industry’s most inglorious prize; this site’s annual PR Disaster award. But the man who patently put the wood in Woods faces some stiff competition from a whole host of PR peckerheads including:

Domino’s staff sandwich-making antics; Hey Hey It’s Saturday blackface act; Renault’s Grand Prix fixing fiasco; Aussie Liberals’ Ute-Gate gaffe; Southern Star Observation wheel buckling; Washington Post’s cash-for-influence dinners; UK PM Gordon Brown’s condolence letter; Kraft iSnack 2.0 (the PR disaster that never was); United Airlines Broke My Guitar; Habitat’s Iran Twitter tag; car hire firm NZCRS pursuing dead people’s family on car hire charges; Climate Gate leaked emails; UK MP’s ongoing expenses embarrassment.

What’s your favourite? What’ve I missed? And in case you’re miffed I haven’t hyperlinked all these sources, I will when I can get a break from some urgent client deadlines

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.

Does every family need a Social Media policy?

PR disaster reader David Jarwood alerts me to the case of the daughter defending her daddy a Director-level employee (of General Motors)  after he gets the sack…another illustrative case of how personal posts can create professional PR disasters – maybe every family needs a Social Media Engagement Policy?

Anyhooz, Sarah Henderson, daughter of sacked GM bigwig Fritz Henderson placed a message on General Motors’ Facebook page describing Ed Whitacre, its new acting chief executive, as “a selfish piece of shit”. After generous use of the f-word, she promised to “never buy from this god forsaken company ever again” and signed off with the words: “f — all of you”. GM was quick to remove the posting, but not quick enough. It was spotted by the car industry blog Jalopnik.com, which copied the page, re-posting it on its own site. As The Australian newspaper points out: “…While the sites, blogs and discussion forums have provided companies with unprecedented access to their customers, they have opened up a myriad of opportunities for damage to a company’s reputation – as disgruntled customers are able to broadcast their frustration and anger to the world.”

Cash-for-influence PR disaster at Washington Post

You know how journalists (and all news organisations) are the good guys – cutting the BS, defending the truth – and PRs are all duplicitous schemers only driven by money and manipulation? Well, shock horror! here’s another case showing how some news organisations have no idea when it comes to PR, and no care for abuse of power: The Washington Post has been offering PR people the chance to buy (at up to $250,000) dinner-date access to political insiders, business leaders, Obama administration officials and Washington Post reporters. Sheeez! The things revenue shortfalls will force some papers to do huh??

Press adviser & blogger's 'smear campaign' PR disaster

A tale of how a press ‘guru’ and a citizen journo conspired to set up fictitious online info to smear and sully the name of the political enemies of their paymasters…ethical behaviour, Bueller, Bueller…?

In the UK, Prime Ministerial adviser Damian McBride has resigned/dressed down by PR Gordy Broon, after (as Wikipedia reports) “…McBride had sent a series of emails to former Labour Party official Derek Draper discussing plans to set up a blog which would be used to post false rumours about the private lives of senior members of the Conservative Party and their spouses. These smears would have included sexual and personal fabrications against certain Tory politicians and their spouses…The emails, which had been sent from the Downing Street Press Office, found their way to Paul Staines, author of the Guido Fawkes blog who brought them to the attention of the media. Mr McBride resigned later the same day, and 10 Downing Street issued an apology for the “juvenile and inappropriate” emails.

Alleged top Aussie blogger spams PR Disasters

I just got, well, spammed; a press release about a hairdresser-turned-software developer plopped in my email box with this simple intro…Hope this story might be a good fit for your blog. Regular PR Disaster readers might know I’m not big on covering hairdresser/software tales, unless their PRs are lazily spamming me. Cet slice de petit carne-dans-un-tincan came from a contractor working for an Aussie publicity outfit whose web proclaims they’re “…not just at the cutting-edge of public relations practices, but also insists they’re “…laser-focused on helping entrepreneurs build their companies through public relations and publicity…LISTEN UP…SPAMMING CITIZEN JOURNOS WILL GET YOU NOTHING BUT NEGATIVE COMMENTARY FOR YOUR CLIENTS (who I will refuse to name in this instance). You need to understand topics bloggers are passionately interested in, and approach them in ways that don’t waste their time. I phoned the PR spammer for an explanation; seems she simply got/bought a list of 50 top Aussie ‘business bloggers’ from an outfit called O-Desk (??), and she (obviously) sprayed the stuff out hoping for some pickup. She seemed not to sense this wasnt quite kosher. But feeling my ire she said sorry. Word to the wise, guys, your online PR “laser’ needs a cleaning cloth. And as an Aussie blog pioneer…surely your team should desist from sending citizen journos like me completely irrelevant media releases?  Online or off, that’s PR 101.