>The Tiger Saga: What He Could Learn from Michael Phelps

30 Nov

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Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where the Vikings just keep on winning… 🙂

You’ve all heard by now about the Tiger Woods kerfuffle, so I’ll spare you the recap. A lot has already been said about how Tiger and his PR team have blown this one…I would agree with that sentiment. None of us know the truth, and it’s possible the guy is just trying to protect his family – or that he just doesn’t care. Still, he owes the world, the sponsors and the legion of fans responsible for his incredible wealth an explanation. So now, being that Tiger’s puckering up tighter than a snare drum and pulling his version of a “no comment” response, what’s the best course of action for him to take?

We need look no further than the Michael Phelps situation a few short months ago for guidance. You’ll remember he was caught on camera having a little too much fun at a house party, and it turned into a full-fledged PR crisis. And when the photos went public…he came out, ate crow, offered an honest explanation, took all questions and sincerely apologized. And…if you haven’t noticed (and you probably haven’t, because this crisis was handled very well), Phelps has moved on, and he’s pretty much been forgiven for his mistake in the vicious court of public opinion. Crisis PR at its finest.

So what did Phelps do well that Tiger can do?

1. Stop avoiding the spotlight, call a presser and answer some questions. Yesterday. It doesn’t matter quite as much what he says – although the truth would be great. It matters more that he faces the music, allows people to connect with him and offers an honest account of the situation and his feelings.

2. Let the media in…a little bit. Tiger has been known for keeping his personal affairs completely to himself, and that’s surely his right. But in a situation like this, it gives the public no basis for comparison when judging his character. It might be a strong play for him to give ESPN, 60 Minutes or somebody else an exclusive interview filmed inside his house, with video of his family. Let people see the man behind the domination. I’m not saying he has to become Terrell Owens. But Phelps? Alex Rodriguez? Andre Agassi? When they faced trouble, they went out and did interviews with the big dogs and told their story.

3. Audit (and maybe tweak) your TSR (Tiger Social Responsibility) activities. Taken from the popular corporate PR term corporate social responsibility, this refers to the work Tiger does in the community and the good work he does with his wealth for those less fortunate. Of course, Tiger has his own Foundation, and he’s struck partnerships with companies who sponsor events, golf tournaments, etc. Tiger shows up, says all the right things, etc. But lately it’s starting to come out that he doesn’t exactly go to the lengths that others with his stature do – or that other legends of golf have gone. And when he does, he doesn’t always project the right attitude. It couldn’t hurt to do more for kids to learn and experience the game of golf, and do it with a smile on his face.

These all would be helpful to Tiger as he goes forward in this accident mess. But I think most people would agree that he simply needs to do something…and fast. What do you think?

I’m out like Lawrence Frank.
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