I think communicators follow scandals like the one that is dogging golf great Tiger Woods with a different mindset. Our focus is on what needs to be done to minimize the damage and what the person in the spotlight could do to save or rebuild their image or personal brand.
Tiger Woods is an international icon and this news, however private, was the lead on most newscasts last night and will be in the spotlight for days to come and online forever. We had a very lively discussion in the AHA office about this situation and what we would advise Tiger.
Now, keep in mind we don’t have all the information. We don’t know whether the allegations are true or what the agenda is of the woman who has come forward and released voicemail tapes, reportedly of Tiger asking her to take her name off her phone. There are many components of this scandal that are not yet known.
However, given what we do know, if Tiger called me for advice, I would tell him that, in order to get out ahead of this story, he needs to take control back from the tabloids and the gossipmongers. He and his wife, Elin, need to immediately set an interview with a respected broadcast journalist/show and take the hard questions and answer them honestly.
I would recommend that we approach Oprah to have Tiger on her show, with his wife. This is a hot story and I can’t imagine any talk show saying no to it. And Oprah is a friend of Tigers. And she has journalistic and personal integrity. That is all in his favour.
No matter what the truth of this situation is (and the fact is, we don’t know what the truth is right now) Oprah gets human beings. She knows that good people do bad things and her approach has an undercoat of compassion. People will follow Oprah’s lead and if she seems to forgive Tiger, they will too – with a caveat. Tiger has to be seen as trying to do the right thing and regret what he did (if he did anything). The fact is, Tiger might regret a lot of things right now, but he isn’t showing that to his fans or fans of his sponsors like Nike and Gatorade. In a perfect world, it might be none of our business what Tiger does in his personal life, but this isn’t a perfect world.
Now, we know Oprah is going to ask the tough questions. She will be softer than many other talk show hosts, but she is going to ask the questions that are on the minds of people. And Tiger needs to be ready to answer them honestly.
Now, without knowing the whole story, it’s hard to say whether Tiger’s wife would agree to go on the show. It is an important piece of the rebuild of Tiger’s image. By going on the show, Elin would show support of Tiger and her family. And Oprah would help to give voice to the hurt, disappointment and outrage that millions may be feeling on her behalf. If Tiger did have an affair, being on Oprah could also help Elin to move towards forgiveness. Being on Oprah with his wife could help redeem Tiger – with millions of people watching.
If Tiger called you for advice, what would you tell him?