Reputation Management of Tiger Woods

By December 1, 2010Uncategorized

If you have not yet read Tiger Woods’ My Turn essay “How I’ve Redefined Victory” in this week’s Newsweek, give it a quick read. I’ll wait.

Do you feel a little sick?

My first reaction was “too little, too late.”  That reaction was the same as what many people had with Tiger’s press conference apology in August, nine months after his highly publicized car accident.

Tiger Woods had a short window of opportunity at the very beginning of his infidelity coming to light, to step up, apologize and work diligently on recovery. He waited though; hid, actually, as more and more damaging information came out.

Throughout that time I had sympathy for his public relations team because I was sure they were advising him to come forward and there’s nothing more frustrating than having a client who refuses to take good counsel.

The second issue I have with Tiger’s essay is the thick layer of spin. There’s hardly a word in the essay that strikes me as written by anyone other than a PR person (and that’s coming from me, a PR person). It’s the kind of effort that would have been better offered a year ago, but with more authenticity than the carefully crafted B.S. about making mac and cheese for his kids or his nights spent alone channel-surfing.

It’s clear that Tiger’s people are selling him as an everyman; we’re supposed to identify with him and have empathy.

Are you buying it?

There are numerous examples of philanderers who have recovered their reputations after getting caught in compromising positions (I asked for suggestions on Twitter once and had several replies).

It’s possible that Tiger will recover his reputation, but his team has a long road ahead.


  • I had a similar reaction. There isn’t a single trace of authenticity of Tiger’s own voice in that piece. What a waste of print space.

  • Rusty Speidel says:

    Hmmm. We really have no way of knowing who wrote this. Maybe he’s a stilted writer. Maybe he had help, maybe he just “approved this message.” But one thing for sure, it’s easy to have an opinion. I am pretty confident that regardless of his public face, this whole situation has got to be pretty rough, even though “he made his own bed, blah blah blah.” His golf has suffered, his endorsements and friendships have disappeared or been sorely tested, and he’s lost whatever semblance of a family life he had built. No great shakes.

    It’s not easy to just put yourself out there for public scrutiny, especially when you know most of it’s going to be horribly negative. I would argue that he just wasn’t ready for that, regardless of what his “PR handlers” might have recommended. When did they get to decide everything, anyway? Don’t they work for him? His sponsors certainly didn’t ask his permission to bail out.

    Why don’t we view this as a start, and see where it heads? If he’s smart, or really ready, he’ll keep it up.

    OK, pound me!

  • I can’t even begin to conjure up the words to describe how this makes me feel. As a woman, heck as a human being, it’s so…dirty. As a communicator, it makes me furious. There is NO remorse or personality in this. He probably didn’t even write it himself. You’re absolutely right – a little too late.

  • Marijean says:

    I would love to see continued efforts from him (a blog would not be a bad idea). I agree it is hard to go out there — but as a public figure (and he is one, whether he wants to be or not) it’s part of the job. He actually could have said nothing, focused on his golf and ignored all advice – in which case we never would have had the press conference apology in August or this essay now. Since he’s done these very public forms of communication, he’s fair game for further criticism of how he’s handling it (or being handled.)

  • L McSwain-Starrett says:

    I agree. It doesn’t seem ground-breaking or arouse much sympathy in my book to claim you’ve “learned” that making dinner for your kids and giving them a bath can be joyful, special moments. Um, duh. This is the beauty in the mundane that we mortals (his fans) live in every day. He basically admits that he is now finally having an “experience [like] a lot of families have every evening around the world” but that just shows the fake world he lived in before. This “apology” makes him seem even more distanced from the “everyman” he was hoping this apology would make him seem to be. Ugh.

  • RM - InBoundMarketingPR says:

    Great point! Read it and he just distances himself more from us mere mortals with his comments… Not heart-felt nor authentic!! He’s got a long road ahead of him and he’s family.