Gini Dietrich

Tiger Woods: A PR Disaster

By: Gini Dietrich | February 21, 2010 | 
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alg_tiger_woods_pressA lot of people have asked me what I think about Tiger Woods and the apology he gave on Friday. I’m never one to react with a knee jerk. I like to let it all soak in, discuss opposing sides, and then tell you what I think. But this one is a little bit different…mostly because the incident happened three months ago (so I’ve had plenty of time to let it sink in) and my opinion of how he should have handled this is no different just because he read a scripted apology on Friday.

Tiger Woods should have apologized no less than 48 hours after the car accident. At that point, he had a huge network of supporters who would have said, “He’s merely a mortal man and this can be fixed.” My friend Dave Van de Walle wrote a blog post (Tiger Woods vs. David Letterman) about it in December, even going so far as to say that if Tiger had used social media to help enhance his support, he wouldn’t be where he is at this moment. I agree

Having a personal brand is not any different that a corporate brand. Remember when Domino’s went through the social media crisis when two of their employees posted a YouTube video of them sneezing and spitting in food and then serving it to customers? The only thing Domino’s did wrong, in that case, is it took them a few days to respond and the video had, at that point, already made its way across the world via the Web. But they responded almost immediately…not three months later. Their CEO made a public apology in front of a camera and they put it on YouTube. The franchisee, whose employees made the video, also created a video apology. Then they used their networks to amplify the message and help dilute the crisis. A crisis, yes. But one handled very swiftly and very well in order to not hurt the brand’s reputation.

Fast forward through speculation and months of the tabloids and their headlines, “We think that is Tiger in a hooded sweatshirt leaving a sex addict clinic!” and he finally gets in front of ONE camera, reads a script, and doesn’t take any questions. A friend asked on Facebook, “So why not just release a video then?” Indeed. Why not just release a video then?

His scripted apology was read, it was disjointed and discombobulated, and his emphasis on going back to Buddism (which didn’t really fit) and spending time with his family were hurt by his family not being there with him. Look, I’m a woman. I get why his wife didn’t want to be there. But, from a PR perspective, if they truly are going to fix their marriage and she’s going to support him through this, she should have been there. But this isn’t about her; it’s about how a man handled a crisis terribly wrong and how it will take him years (if ever) to get his endorsements back. A crisis that could have been averted with a swift apology three months ago.

What do you think?

Photo credit: New York Daily News

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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