Tiger’s public relations street cred is sinking faster than one of his fairway drives, and public relations pundits are punishingly critical of his spin doctoring to date.
This is a man who has enough money to bail out Dubai, yet he’s left standing at the precipice of a perception verses reality canyon. At this time, there is little that money or a spinmeister can do to help his cause.
Perceptions are like cancer cells. They are difficult to control, hard to kill and once established tough to change into a more benign form.
Here are several mistakes Tiger has made to date:
1. Waiting too long to say anything, thereby allowing the perception train to pull out of the station.
2. Being reactive to building questions surrounding his late-night costly cruise.
3. Seeming to hide behind his gated community’s walls like a wanted man, or at the very least, a very rich man who doesn’t want to talk to the police.
4. Allowing the tabloids to form a cast of public perception around unsubstantiated and potentially troubling claims of “other” women.
5. Holding off for days to issue a sincere apology and begin “damage control” with his family, friends and those important sponsors.
A sad fact is that this type of behavior by sports legends is all too common. Had Tiger’s team of consultants and image masters revisited recent sports history they would’ve found several examples of sports stars and their public relations disasters. Serena Williams, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, Kobe Bryant…the list goes on.
Unfortunately, Tiger is playing way below “par” on the perception management front.