Tiger Woods: Par for the PR Course?

OK, let’s think about it for a minute. This morning — like many these days — I headed to the wellness center (formerly called gym) at about 5 a.m., first backing my Jeep out of the garage and driveway in the dark. Suppose I rammed the fire hydrant that stands almost directly across the street? Would my wife immediately come charging out of the house wielding a golf club with the intent of extricating me from the tangled steel and plastic?


And that’s one of the problems Tiger Woods has with the story — and news coverage — of his late-night car accident and his wife’s seemingly heroic rescue. Even a novice conspiracy theorist can find some questions lurking in this account. So what?

Is Tiger Woods obligated to bare his soul and everything else at this point as though he were about to go through security at the Orlando airport?

No. From what I’ve read he is not required to talk to the police about the incident. Yet just about everyone else is clamoring for him to do so — especially the public relations crisis communication/management experts. Here — thanks to my friend Bill Sledzik via Twitter — is one of what I am sure are many similar articles: “Local PR pros advise Tiger Woods to open up.”

Many times full and timely disclosure is the best, most effective — and possibly only — response. But not always — despite what the PR gurus and agency folks who command big bucks to give this advice say. What if you say nothing — opine as Woods has that this is a private matter — and then just let the story go away, as it will eventually?

Here’s why this may be the best strategy for Woods to follow at this point.

First, no matter what, Woods doesn’t want this to evolve into a story about domestic violence. There are no facts to support that now. And here’s a situation where it is possible that legal counsel and PR advice don’t mesh — with the legal folks getting the better of the argument.

Second, Woods is a public figure — but at the same time he has a valid claim to personal privacy. He’s not an elected public official — and I don’t see any public right to know here about his marriage, family, or even as the National Enquirer reports, a relationship with another woman. This isn’t a Mark Sanford situation — even if Woods has been hiking the Appalachian Trail, which he denies. If Woods opens the door to his private life, he is letting everyone in. Why? Or at least, why now?

Third, if there is such a thing as a Tiger Woods brand, it’s based on his position as the world’s best golfer. It’s not like he is manufacturing a car that has been subject to a recall here. Good grief. Is this a hit to his reputation and how some may view him personally? Yes. Does it knock him, his career or his endorsements out of bounds? No.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. And it gives our collective national minds and attention spans some time off from considering other issues: health care, jobs, the economy, Afghanistan and so on.

And get this. While I was finishing my stint on the elliptical trainer this morning, the TV Talking Heads on Fox News described the woman involved in the story, Rachel Uchitel, as being in PR — since she is (as they reported) a hostess at a NYC nightclub.

Go figure.




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