Tiger Unplugged: Too Scripted. Too Long. Too Melodramatic. Just Way Too Much.

Posted on February 19, 2010 by 1 Comment

Tiger Press ConferenceIn the first public comments from Tiger Woods since he issued a statement apologizing for his marital transgressions, we were witness to a press conference called by Tiger himself to address the controversy that has surrounded him, his marriage, and his alleged infidelity. From a crisis management vantage point, the only real challenge Tiger had coming into the event was to appear genuine, appropriately contrite, and committed to making it right for his family. That’s really all the public wants to see and hear from public figures who are coming to us for some degree of redemption or forgiveness.

But unfortunately, we were treated to the exact opposite. What began on an appropriate note with something along the lines of  “I am deeply sorry for the irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in. … I had affairs. … I cheated” sadly ended somewhere after that. Exactly where isn’t clear since the obviously scripted statement was a really long and winding road, which quickly became almost too painful to keep watching.

Before the tsunami of commentary commences, let me go on record suggesting that watching the just-completed Tiger Woods press conference was probably one of the most painful experiences I’ve had in my adult life – excepting the triple root canal, perhaps.

Aside from rambling on for way too long, doing a pretty poor job of appearing genuine, and making the classic mistake of scripting his remorse – all the while making South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s post-infidelity discovery press conference look like a candidate for an Emmy – Tiger did himself and his image no favors, and perhaps did more damage than his complete silence for the last 70 days.

The blogosphere and traditional media have for weeks been screaming about the need for Tiger to say something about his reported infidelity, to provide some sort of context or rationale that the public could use to put his behavior in context, but there was nothing. Not a peep. Not a sighting. Not even a Tiger-penned article somewhere, besides that vaguely written blurb posted on his Web site about two weeks after the crash. Then earlier this week came the news that an official press conference was planned. We were alerted that media access would be tightly managed, with no questions allowed. Not long after it became clear exactly how tightly media access would be managed by Tiger’s people, the golf writers’ group made the decision to boycott the entire event, expressing dismay at the ban on questions.

Suffice it to say that today’s press conference will go down in history as perhaps one of the most awkward, mismanaged and disingenuous events in the history of spouses attempting to make atonement for their indiscretions. One thing is for sure. We certainly know more than we did before the press conference began, but in my opinion we know none of what we really wanted to know.

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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