Communication Matters

Analysis, critique, and advice on today's hot news topics from the perspective of a Strategic PR Consultant.

Tiger Woods’ Unconventional Crisis Management. The next step.

Posted by mrsmart on February 19, 2010

This is a continuing look at Tiger Woods unconventional yet superb crisis management. Please see the first posting here.

As Tiger Woods has chosen to make his first public statement since the scandal that forced him out of the public eyes, many are questioning his PR people and their methods.

What many are expecting is the conventional crisis management approach of a news conference where Tiger Woods meets the press and answers questions directly from them.

However, Mr. Woods crisis management approach is neither traditional nor conventional. So, if they received an A grade for their crisis management planning from me, they deserve an A for execution. Almost all elements of crisis management I touched on in my first post are still intact as they take the first tentative steps for Tiger’s return to the public eyes.

1. The audience to whom he will be speaking—Tiger Woods handpicked those to whom he will be speaking in the room. Besides Mrs. Woods, with whom he spent all these time making atonement, these may be those to whom he owes his legitimacy and feels needed to be talked to directly. By extension, however, he will be speaking to the wider television audience around the world, only they will not be able to turn the event into a circus.

2. Message control—Whatever he decides to say, Tiger Woods is controlling the message. He will be speaking to a captive audience: close friends, business partners, and yes, the world wide audience.

3. The method—A news conference. He will offer a mea culpa, an apology and discuss whatever he so wishes, but will not take any questions.

4. The timing—It has been nearly three months. He is holding this event on a Friday, a traditionally slow news day or “news dump” day, however one looks at it.

5. The principal—Mr. Woods, himself will speak on his own behalf. Nothing begins to bring closure than hearing from the principal person in the crisis. Not his lawyers, publicists or what have you.

6. Pre-crisis reputation—Tiger Woods had a stellar reputation before the crisis. His pre-crisis reputation provides him a reservoir of goodwill from which he can draw as he embarks on his come-back journey. Despite his transgression, Mr. Woods still has a strong base of support. Few of his fans turned against him. For that matter, only few sponsors out rightly severed business ties with him.

There is hardly a downside to these tentative steps Tiger Woods is planning to take with the planned event. And, at the end of the day, Mr. Woods would have accomplished what he set out to do: Address the scandal in public; discuss it his way by controlling the message; and taken that crucial important first step towards fully returning to the public arena and professional golfing.

Emmanuel A. Smart is President of SMART EXPRESSIONS, a Strategic Public Relations and Corporate Communication firm based in Houston, TX.
Mr Smart ‘s expertise is in crisis management. He specializes in building, leveraging and protecting individuals and organizational image and reputation. Mr. Smart is available for media interviews. For more information, call 713-834-4138, email: or visit


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