The Tiger Woods story continues to fascinate me. Not because he is ‘Tiger Woods’ the golf legend, nor because of the sleazy sex sandal that undermines what we all thought we knew about him. (The latter point about who he really is being why this story continues to lure readers and viewers.) No, what fascinates me, and drives me to follow this story is the way his handlers are dealing with this matter. The PR angle to this story is one that propels me to follow other public fiascos, be they sex scandals or just plain stupid acts or statements by politicians. I have argued here on CP that Tiger Woods has been paying lots of money to his handlers who have not advised him very well. In fact, I think they should be fired, and he might just listen to the media columnists ( no kidding) who are actually offering some really good advice.
Granted, Woods it turns out is a dirty dog that needs no one to blame but himself for his actions. No amount of PR would undo all the damage even if it had been applied properly from the first hour the news broke after Thanksgiving. But I do think that some of the damages could have been mitigated had there been an honest statement given at the start, and a real appreciation by his handlers for the depth of interest this story would generate, and the degree the media would dig to get the truth. There was, it seems to me, a real amateur approach from the Woods’ team to how big this story would become. And there was no sense for the role the media would, and should play with this story. When the Woods’ team treated the media as if they could manipulate them by saying this was a ‘private’ matter I knew there was no one in charge of Woods that had a real sense of the situation. It was as if the image they had created of Woods being a ‘family man’ all these years for the world to eat up was one they believed themselves. While the handlers were still following their storyline, we all were starting to know different.
As such, I find this type of article a great read from today’s paper.
Woods’s handlers are probably confident that they have given a hungry news-media horde what it wants to get off the trail.
If his representatives think this statement will put out the fire, they are wrong.
They have been wrong for 17 days. Anyone with compassion feels for the Woods family. But this was simply another carefully manicured statement shaped by high-priced image consultants and high-powered lawyers.
Image is everything, and the Woods camp is still trying to control a story that has raged like wildfire since Nov. 27, when Woods crashed his sport utility vehicle into a fire hydrant and a tree near his Florida home in a gated community. Woods, once so regal in his silence, has become the butt of jokes, the No. 1 topic of gossip. He has remained out of sight.
The great heavyweight champion Joe Louis said you can run but you can’t hide, and that is true. Woods cannot hide, not on his yacht, not inside his mansions. There comes a point when a celebrity athlete whose career has been built on global allure must return to center stage and face the music.
So, what should Woods say to a fan base led to believe — by inference of a sea of brilliant ad campaigns — that Woods is something he is not?
Simple truth delivered in person, scars and all.
He should say: “I apologize — to my wife, to my children, to my parents, to the PGA Tour, to sponsors, to the legion of Tiger Woods fans, who I know are stunned and disappointed. In the process of cheating on you, I have cheated myself.”
In his Web site statement, Woods said, “It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done.”
He may consider a more positive approach: “I hope I live long enough to repair the damage I have done.”
Delivering such a statement, before a global audience, would be one of the most difficult things Woods could ever do.