Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Most Important Thing Tiger Woods Can Do Right Now

Tell the truth.

No matter how embarrassing, that is his only salvation.

To recap, Mr. Woods was involved in a one-car accident about 2:30 am Friday. According the the authorities in Florida, Tiger's wife smashed the back window of Tiger's Cadillac Escalade with a golf club and Tiger was found laying on the street, bloodied and unconscious. The authorities report the truck hit a fire hydrant and a tree less than 100 feet from the couple's driveway. Tiger's wife Elin Nordegren (above), doesn't seem like she has the physique to drag the 6'1" Woods from the front seat of his SUV...into the middle seat and over that and then out the back window. So, did she crawl through the broken window to unlock the doors? Now the Daily Mail in the UK reports that two passenger side windows were also smashed. Smashing one window seems plausible. Smashing three seems angry or desperate.

Many publications have pointed out that there have been rumors of Tiger having an affair with a model and that perhaps Mrs. Woods was miffed and the pair got into a scuffle.

The key to successfully communicating in a crisis is to be honest, transparent and clear. Whether the news is embarrassing shouldn't enter into the equation. Although, it always does.

There are three things that are certain to play out over the next few days and weeks:

1) The truth will come out
Whatever the real story is, it will come out regardless of the wishes of Tiger, his wife or any of their handlers. A car accident is one thing. Domestic disputes, if that's what happened, are quite another.

2) People will talk
People connected to the story will talk. People who have nothing to do with the story will talk. Ultimately, the only person we want to hear from is Tiger. Until we hear from him, anyone will do. Truth has little to do with the story these people will tell. People want fame. (See: Reality Television; Balloon Boy)

3) The news media (including new media) will be relentless until the story is finished
Journalists are tired of doing the holiday shopping story and this is a lot more interesting that blogging about the ten hot new trends for Social Media in 2010. (Although, I am still working on a piece on personal branding)

The sad part about all of this is that none of us knows what happened. The window of goodwill that is currently open to Tiger will close very soon.

And it will take a lot more than a golf club to open it again.

Bill Salvin

Update: Tiger Woods issued a statement. Take a look at it here, but it will do nothing to stop this story. Good luck at your Tuesday press conference, Tiger. 


  1. Great post Bill. My husband and I were debating this this morning and I related close to the same thing that you said...the sooner that he comes out and tells the truth the better it wil be. I referred to you in using this as an example of crisis communication-where honesty and transarency will help with the situation. Thanks!

  2. Good word, Bill. I could care less what really happened, but I am interested in how this plays out from a PR perspective.