Tiger’s Tale. Selfish timing, careful PR management, or big mistake?

So, it all begins again. At circa 4pm GMT, Tiger Woods will break his silence and speak to the world. Or will he?

Tiger Woods
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It already reads like a carefully orchestrated move, minimal members of the press allowed, one networked camera feed, a brief statement and that’s your lot.

No wonder people seeking answers and a pound of flesh are already grumbling. However, who is it that deserves to hear this? Why do we the public and the media think we have a right to see the man torn apart by ravening wolves? Tiger is dealing with his “addiction” problems and his family situation in his own way and that really isn’t anyone’s business but his and his family’s.

A major problem here is the timing. Ernie Els was among the most strident as he condemned the “selfish” timing of the decision to face a selected media gathering — but take no questions — in the middle of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“It’s selfish. You can write that,” Els said. “I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the tournament.”It takes away a lot more than that too, for guess who was one of the first sponsors to jettison Woods once his antics became public? That’s right, Accenture.

Ernie Els has taken a swing at Tiger Woods over his "selfish" timing

Els comments have been echoed by the likes of Rory Mcllroy and Sergio Garcia, with Mcllroy even daring to say what many suspect; ““He’s got to come out at some point. I suppose he might want to get something back against the sponsor that dropped him.”

The whole affair (and take that in as many ways as you wish!) bubbles down to one overriding perception of the world’s greatest golfer, selfishness.

A carefully orchestrated media briefing to your remaining buddies is probably not the way that many in crisis management and PR would have gone. Sure, I can see why he is nervous, the majority of the media turned on him pretty sharpish once they smelled blood last time but what Woods is doing here could potentially alienate them even more.

By cutting them out he may think he is in control of the message he wants to give and I would agree – to an extent – but he isn’t in control of how the media respond to his salvo. You rarely are, so it is crucial to balance the situation in your favour as much as possible.

Media relations is not a one way street.  It is about relationships and dialogue. This afternoon, the world’s greatest golfer, the master of his own destiny and his own mind, may well find that his single-minded stubbornness to accept defeat in any area of his life is not his greatest strength but his biggest weakness.

The Press For Attention Prescription

The timing, for one, is awful. How to lose friends and alienate people in one fell swoop. Sure there are tournaments going on all year-round as we have been reminded by the tournament director but are they always sponsored by Accenture? Smells a bit to me. He is right to do a press briefing before he hits the fairways again but he needs to face the music and play the media game properly – whether his controlling nature likes it or not.

Mark Steinberg, of IMG, Woods’s manager, said: “It’s strictly a timing issue. There is a very good reason [to do it today] and not do it next week.”

I’m intrigued to see what this is Mark. It had better be a good one!