Sometimes controversial political press secretary Ari Fleischer is in place to advise Tiger’s re-entry to the world of golf. Word suggests that Ari’s team has been working with Woods to make a major announcement about his future, perhaps by the end of next week. Commentators point at Ari’s blemished PR history, including his work with baseball’s steroid slugger Mark McGwire and, of course, Dubya himself.
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.
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
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 management: Regret, 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.