Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Tiger of a statement coming?

It's been three months and counting for Tiger.


Until this Friday, Feb. 19, when he is expected to hold a press conference to.......announce his return to golf.
And, what else? Tiger?

Public relations professionals have almost unanimously criticized Woods and his inner circle for mishandling the golfer's misfortunes from a communications and damage-control standpoint.
I contend his silence may have been the best strategy.
What do you think?
His last "statement" about this was Dec. 11 on his web site, saying he was taking a leave of golf and he was sorry, and he asked forgiveness. He said he wanted to devote his time to being a better father and husband....and person.
In the interim, he has lost a large number of major sponsors. His fellow golfers have turned on him. The PGA has lost money.
He has been the subject of rumor and speculation, much of which - in theory - he could have prevented, controlled or balanced had he spoken or made any visible appearance.
But, my god, look at his case and you'll see why silence may have been the best thing. One affair could have been forgivable. But, a seemingly endless stream of women? This was far too much to overcome for an international figure who had built an empire both on his capabilities and his good-guy image. Does anyone honestly believe a press conference - where we could see a "visibly emotional" Tiger - followed by appearances on Oprah and other carefully crafted publicity tactics would have prevented these losses?
His fall was simply too big for immediate communications.
There has been no true precedent for Tiger. Kobe was a singular event. Other "infidelities" among popular figures were just as limited. And, I contend, no other athlete had the same image or financial empire or impact on his/her sport. So, I argue, it is not as easy as everyone believes - that you can pull out the standard public relations manual and begin the damage control/recovery game.
In Tiger's case, taking a breather may have been the best strategy. Let the damage occur - and it would have occurred like this anyway. Let everyone take their shots. The "truth" in this case is ugly - so why let Tiger try to give his side or try to answer to each and ever little detail? If he talks, it only keeps the story near the top of the news cycle that more. I believe we would have had more press coverage if Tiger spoke right away. So, give it a proper amount of space between "incident" and "press conference."
People want to forgive Tiger. Sponsors want Tiger back. The PGA needs Tiger. Come back too soon - which marks the start of the forgiveness period, and Tiger makes sponsors and the PGA look too greedy, too eager. Come back too soon and fans won't be ready to forgive. Their anger, hurt and disrepect will still be raging. And, if he is truly trying to repair a marriage - let him. Kobe became a better husband and father, so it's possible. But Kobe didn't have an empire to reassemble.
Tiger's case is simply too big to rush it. I know my colleagues will think I'm nuts. This may be the one and only time I say silence is better.
What do you think Tiger should say Friday? Leave comments here.

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