We did not want to talk about him but we will talk about it. We will talk about PR and the media. Let’s start with excerpts from the Press Conference:
Elin deserves praise, not blame. What I did was not acceptable, but I am the only person to blame.(…) I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply…instead I only thought about myself.
(…) I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to, deserve to enjoy all the temptations around me. I thought I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them. I was wrong; I was foolish.
(…)Despite the damage I have done, I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight.
Two weeks ago, if you were searching « Crisis Management » on Google News, the first articles found would have been on Toyota. We bet that in the next couple of hours, the most famous golfer in the world will rule over the search engines. You will get an headache trying to catch up with all the twits on Tiger Woods.
Today, the athlete held a press conference addressing the rumours of him cheating on his wife. He had to admit the irrefutable; he has not been faithful.
Radio-Canada reported that half of the comment on Twitter were positive while the other half were negative.
On the Quebecker channel TVA, supporters had the audacity to say that Tiger Woods hasn’t done enough in his speech because he hasn’t specified when he will resume his pause from golf. Maybe we should appreciate the fact that some people are more concerned with his career than his life outside the spotlight.
Too perfect to be true?
The content of the speech was irreproachable. He apologized, explained how fame led him to this bad behaviour without necessarily looking for excuses.
Nevertheless, the whole speech looked rehearsed and we still haven’t been able to separate the cool-blooded, perfectionist athlete from the repentant husband. His testimonial sounded more like a reading. It looked more like a kid that parents forced to talk to older people.
But what were we exactly expecting from a sportsman, a talk worthy of a PR expert?
Why private matters have to go public
Why does Tiger Woods need a PR team you may wonder? Since he isn’t a public official, he shouldn’t feel the obligation to discuss a private matter in a public arena.
One could argue that Woods is not the guy next door, being an iconic world figure and a $100 million marketing corporation that was built around an unfailing integrity.
While this is true, it doesn’t have to mean that this integrity should be assessed outside the golf court. In an ideal world, his performance as head of household shouldn’t matter to strangers. But we don’t live in an ideal world. This has been evidenced by the way media have shamelessly reported every humiliating detail from his private life.
In addition to poor media relations, Tiger has lost deals with Tag Heuer and Accenture. It tantamouts millions of dollars vanishing in thin air just in a year.
Companies know too well that using celebrities to endorse their products is taking the chance “that they won’t live up to the storyboard” as a Wall Street Journal writer puts it.
Image consultants and PR specialists have proposed a series of things Tiger and his PR team should do burnish its brand. Their expertise also identified what has helped and what can contribute to digging a bigger hole for himself.
Below, we will publish a summary the recommendations that experts from all over the world have blogged about in the last months. While some of this suggestions will sound sordid, they are really part of the steps that big firms are taking to resolve this kind of issues.
Note: The opinion provided below don’t necessairly reflect the opinion of Jaune Hibiscus. It was listed to show how absurd is the situation.
Do’s and dont’s
Don’t: Fail to recognize the public as a legitimate partner in managing this crisis.
Do: Put the public first. As pointed out earlier, this private matter has unfortunately became of public interest. If Tiger wants people to respect his privacy, he has to feed their curiosity. This is not to say that he should give them even more details because that would fuel a never-ending rumor mill. Rather, he should calmly draw the big picture so people get to understand that there should be nothing more to talk about and that it’s time to move on.
Don’t: Remain silent on the matter. The very first mistake Tiger’s team did was to remain silent for 24 hours; they let the blogs and tweeters feed the world with speculations. People start forming an opinion the first 24 hours. Within that time, if the media don’t get an official statement before they go on air or put to press, they will look for information anywhere else and you just “killed” your side of the story. Do: Be proactive and communicate fast. The more Tiger will keep mum about the incident, the more people will assume that he has more to hide. Since he doesn’t defend himself, they will rely on the media to dig even further. If he wants to break the cycle, he needs to establish himself as the “centre of information” which will allow him to have a say in the way the news is reported.
Don’t: Release a statement using a press release; people will feel that you are hiding behind closed doors.
Everybody knows press releases are written by the PR staff and only become official after it is approved by the first concerned.
Do: Talk directly to the public through the media. People need to see the sorrow in Tiger’s face and feel the pain in his voice. Television is the appropriate media to do that. While the content of his latest release was compelling, its impact can’t hardly compete with strong visuals. The only image that everyone has in mind now is of a cold-blooded, “near-to perfection” guy who fooled the world. He needs to tell us a different story; every hero has his krptonit and he is no exception.
Don’t: Use popularity as the only criteria when selecting media. While some TV persona like Oprah Winfrey and Diane Sawyer are good enough to draw the masses, others think female show hosts are unadvisable. Going on the David Letterman show could be a good move if not too risky. Letterman’s mug was recently in the news because of a sex scandal. The anchor-man handled the scandal pretty well and soon enough tongues stopped wagging. Would he allow a Tiger on his show?
Do: Talk to a national sports correspondent such as Jim Nance or Bob Costas on Friday or Saturday. If possible, Tiger should bring his wife along and request respect for family’s privacy. It will touch them more than a staged interview.
Don’t: Rely solely on good words.
Do: Engage in constructive actions that will show redemption. Even if not everyone will buy into that, Tiger needs to publicly announce that he has sought the help of a profesionnal or any kind of behavioral advisors. In parallel to that, he can decide to reach out to the community, to real people who may face similar situations. Talking to young men about what he had to learn the hard way can help achieve that. Before going to jail, rapper T.I. was featured in a television show where he was seen convincing young males to no longer associate with criminal gangs.
It may be entertaining to read all these suggestions but by the look of his face today, we hardly doubt that Tiger will follow even half of these advices.