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Crisis Communications 101 – Lessons from Tiger

When the story first broke that golf great Tiger Woods had crashed his car into a fire hydrant after an alleged argument with his wife, I resisted blogging about it. After all, everyone’s human and mistakes happen. But after he released a statement acknowledging his infidelity several days after a number of accusations of his cheating surfaced, I felt compelled to address it.

It’s not for me to judge Tiger’s behavior (although I’m highly disappointed in him). But I can use the incident as a teachable moment about what NOT to do when a crisis occurs, whether it’s of your own making or due to circumstances beyond your control.

Whenever an issue arises that will likely hit the media or otherwise be made known to your customers, you are better off getting in front of it and addressing it head on rather than letting it fester.

Essentially, Tiger should have ripped the bandage off the wound in one clean sweep when the story first broke. Instead he slowly peeled it away, which only created more curiosity and media interest. The fact that the story has changed somewhat from his first statement (“the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible”) to his second (“I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves”) makes him appear less credible.

While nothing but time will heal his image and possibly his marriage, getting in front of the situation immediately would have definitely sped up this process.

(For an example of someone who limited the damage by getting his story out before the media did, see my previous blog entry on David Letterman).


1 comment to Crisis Communications 101 – Lessons from Tiger

  • Kara, I agree. Coming clean would have spared him and his family the AMOUNT of damage that they will have to face for months to come. Say what they may about Letterman (a cheater as well!)he did the right thing by coming clean.

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