The Year of the Tiger

February 18th, 2010

So, finally, tomorrow’s the day – Tiger will speak. Ninety days after his world was turned upside down – or rather uncovered – Tiger Woods will face the media and, according to his agent, begin to make amends.

Will Elin be standing by his side, as Vanessa stood by Kobe’s side?  Will we be able to see scars on his face? And, of course, what will he say?

What we do know is that it will not be a media zoo – at least not in the room. As with everything with Tiger (except his … um… appetites), it’ll be tightly controlled. There will be no questions taken, just Tiger talking. Three wire services – Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg – will be there.  Only one camera will be in the room to provide live satellite coverage.

Over the last couple months, I’ve told some friends – only half-joking – that Tiger should become the first golf villain. Go all in… be the bad guy of golf. If the goal is pure profit, there’s plenty of sponsorship dollars available on that side of the occasion. You want to be a pioneer? Well, that is somewhere no one has gone before.But he probably won’t do that.

So, here’s some unsolicited advice for the previously perfect man:

Don’t read a script. People want to hear you speak from the heart, and reading doesn’t accomplish that. You can have some notes, but if you’re reading off a piece a paper or using a teleprompter, you’ve failed. If we get a vanilla apology that we could’ve gotten three months ago, it’ll do more harm than good.

Don’t have your handlers with you. This is obviously an orchestrated event, but if it looks too orchestrated, it won’t be believable. You need to be standing on your own and face the world. If your wife is there, great. If not, nobody else. (Hint: tell Rachel to stay home).

Don’t hide behind PR words. Please don’t tell me this has been “a challenging time.” Don’t tell me you’ve “committed indescretions.” Speak plainly and don’t hide behind politician-style euphemisms.

Tell me something I don’t know. The inclination in these situations is always to say as little as possible. We always preach that a primary goal in crisis communications is to minimize the story. Well, we’re a bit past that. You need to give us something of substance.

Demonstrate some sacrifice. I’m talking about the Masters. Don’t play in it. That’ll show me you’re serious. If all you’ve done is skip a couple of pre-season tournaments but are coming back for the Grand Daddy, I’ll just assume you were never serious about making a true sacrifice. If you play in the Masters, you’re not getting me back. I’ll know that this is just the latest scene in the Truman Show that is your life.

Of course, maybe none of this will happen. Maybe he’s going to announce that he’s getting a divorce. Maybe he’ll retire from golf. Even if it’s just the first public step back to reclaiming his family and reclaiming his career, the road is long.

Posted Under: Crisis Communications, Media & Journalism
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