Happy Monday! I hope you are all well rested after a wonderful Thanksgiving Break. As you can tell, the blog took a little hiatus last week due to deadlines and the short holiday week but we are back in full force! With that said, onto today’s topic at hand: PR gone wrong.
I am an avid sports fan and spectator. I watch everything from football to tennis and try to keep up with all the latest news. Because of this, perhaps the most interesting sports-related story I read over the holiday weekend was the one regarding world champion golfer Tiger Woods’ recent one-person crash and the backlash that followed. I remember watching basketball with my dad and reading it as a Breaking News headline on ESPN that read “Tiger Woods Seriously Injured in a Car Accident.” As the reports came that he had run into a fire hydrant and tree pulling out of his driveway in the wee hours of Friday morning, so did the questions. Why was he leaving his house so late? How did he get seriously hurt when he was just pulling out of his driveway going less that 33 mph? Why did his wife smash his rear window to save him and not his front or side window?
Four days later, these questions still haven’t been answered. In fact, the world champion golfer didn’t even address the situation at all until yesterday when he released a vague statement on his website calling the situation “a private matter.” Unfortunately for Tiger, when the public wants answers, they’ll go to any lengths to get them even if it means fabricating them. Now that’s not to say that the rumors of infidelity and domestic abuse aren’t true, but the PR lesson here is that Tiger’s refusal to publicly address and diffuse the situation from the beginning took him out of the driver’s seat (no pun intended). The control he could have had now belongs to TMZ, Perez Hilton, and the numerous sports’ bloggers that are absolutely having a field day with this whole fiasco.
Kevin Sullivan, a former White House Communications Director and founder of Kevin Sullivan Commuications, LLC has a great article on Yahoo that discusses this PR mess further and offers some suggestions for Tiger to move forward and put this behind him. You can read about it here. He suggests that Tiger should waste no more time in explaining himself, own up to any wrongdoings, and when all else fails, use a little humor to lighten things up. Whichever path he decides to take, I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear of this story.