Tiger Woods and Image Reputation

Posted on December 3, 2009 by Comments Off

Tiger Woods and Image Reputation

Torod Neptune & Michael Lock

Once considered the world’s most marketable athlete, can Tiger Woods’ seemingly invincible reputation survive a media onslaught over his recent “accident” debacle? Woods, who has built up a strong reputation of being a clean-cut, all-around generous athlete, is learning quickly that his image and reputation alone do not automatically exempt him from media scrutiny.

Since Woods used media to build and leverage his clean image, he cannot expect to receive any preferential treatment without first addressing the controversy head-on. By not addressing the issue immediately and frankly, the media has no other option but to pry, inquire, and speculate on the reasons as to why Woods is dithering.

Had Woods come clean right from the beginning, given his seemingly invincible image, he would have been able to dictate the media coverage and control the conversation of the story. From skipping numerous interviews with authorities to cancelling all his appearances at his namesake tournament, Woods is backing himself and his once untouchable reputation into a very tight corner.

Jon Friedman sums the public’s discontent with Woods’ reluctance to come clean; “What we detest, more than anything in the world, is the appearance of a cover-up. When people try to cover things up, we feel duped. We feel snookered. We feel betrayed. And we don’t like it — and we invariably have the last word.”

The lessons from Woods’ situation are the cornerstones of any successful and well-executed image reputation strategy.

  • Don’t hesitate to act – There is a small window of opportunity where admitting fault or guilt will do the least damage. By not acting immediately and by withholding details, you allow the media to speculate and spread false rumors that only resonate louder with each passing second.
  • Dictate the conversation – By choosing to address a situation directly and personably (in Woods’ case, a direct statement from himself), you can dictate the conversation in the media coverage and control wild speculations or conspiracies.
  • Be honest – Choosing not to disclose certain information is a right of privacy, but leaving out certain information or not disclosing certain events, however, only fuels controversy. Coming clean about a situation, no matter how damaging, can be better in the long run than trying to cover-up facts and being exposed later.

While Woods has since released a personal statement, could this be too little too late? The media is already saturated with salacious rumors and claims of wild affairs involving Woods. The statement did come from Woods himself, but the lack of details and disclosure is doing little to combat media speculation.

Woods has a right to privacy when it comes to his family and marriage, but as a public figure he cannot expect the media, which he leveraged to build his grand reputation, to simply take a mulligan.

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