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Industry Opinion: Tigers Woods, Reputation Repair, Reputation Management

Water coolers around the world have had people talking about Tiger Woods ever since that famous day when the news broke of his recent “activities.”  Tiger Woods held a press conference last Friday which I’m sure was watched by many around the world.  In case you missed it here is a copy of the video from YouTube.

In this edition of Industry Opinion I asked Marion MacKenzie, President of GCI Canada to share her opinion and thoughts on the situation but also give some insight on reputation management.

DF – Should Tiger Woods have done anything different when this story first broke?

Marion MacKenzie – Tiger Woods didn’t get out in front of the situation fast enough; however to be fair the allegations escalated very rapidly. Also because of the number of alleged mistresses, he and his advisors were challenged in not only managing the amount of inquiries and allegations but also the fact that each day the number of alleged mistresses was increasing. Obviously the viral aspect of social media moves so fast that it demands that communicators respond quickly and in real-time.

DF – Where did you watch (listen) the Tiger Woods news conference?

Marion MacKenzie – I watched the conference on YouTube. His advisors understand that social media channels allow the opportunity to present an apology that will exist conceivably forever outside of traditional media channels. It also allows him to “speak” directly to fans, sponsors, the golf community… without editing or external commentary by journalists.

DF – Do you feel the news conference has helped or hurt his public reputation?

Marion MacKenzie – The answer to that depends on whether you believe that private, personal behaviour should have any influence on appraising someone’s professional life. Some would argue private choices and conduct are relevant and demonstrate whether someone has character and others would argue there is no relevance. There is also a community that is neutral or simply doesn’t care about Mr. Woods.

It is important to acknowledge that the press conference was highly scripted, no questions were allowed and the physical audience was composed of “friendlies”. It is difficult to know who the “real” Tiger Woods is. Also, some commentators have raised the possibility that the press conference was part of his rehabilitation therapy and may be an important act for him personally in moving forward and the apology to his family, friends and fans is actually secondary.

DF – What impact will the press conference have on Tigers Woods as a brand?

The press conference will become part of his overall narrative. Because it was so totally scripted, it did not hurt him other than it reinforced his need for control. What is really important now is what happens next, his conduct and the decision he and his wife make regarding their future.

DF – What should be done next to repair his reputation?

Mr. Woods should deal with his addiction and make the necessary changes in his behavior.

DF – Is there a difference between online and offline reputation management?

Marion MacKenzie – At this time the two worlds are becoming totally integrated. Things move much faster in the online world and that demands that the offline world move quickly as well.