Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Takes The Stage

It seems like an eternity since Tiger Woods' Cadillac SUV struck a tree and fire hydrant in Florida Thanksgiving weekend.

Today, he faced a camera, three carefully selected reporters (who did not get to ask any questions), his mother, and about 40 friends and employees, in a PGA Tour clubhouse in Pont Vedra Beach, FL. That's not to mention the millions of television viewers from around world, including his father-in-law watching in Sweden.

There are critics, not the least is Golfer Ernie Els, who pointed out Woods made his public mea culpa on the Friday of the Accenture Match Play Championship. Els told Golf Week Magazine "It's selfish." And, he accused Woods of stealing the spotlight from the Tournament, sponsored by the first company to pull its sponsorship after the sex-scandal broke.

My sense is Tiger Woods meant what he said today. He could have been pressured by handlers and friends to say the same thing two months ago, when he was not ready, or perhaps not even convinced he had done anything wrong. The words, without heartfelt meaning, could have done more harm, than no public statement at all.

Many reporters and even some of Woods' competitors complained that he didn't answer questions, nor give any sordid details. I wasn't ask, but I would have counseled him to do what he did ... make a statement, take responsibility for what he did, say he is sorry -- only if he means it -- explain what he is doing to fix his problem . . .then move on.

One of our competitors has written a book, and promotes it every chance he gets, about how apologies are over-rated. After 20-years of working with clients of all kinds, including some very public figures, there is ample evidence that "taking responsibility" for mistakes, screw-ups, bad behavior, defective products or poor service is still the first step toward recovery of a brand or reputation.

Unfortunately, words alone won't fix anything. It requires the second step -- doing the right thing(s) coupled with the apology or "taking responsibility".

Now golf fans and his family, employees and friends will be watching to see if he follows through with his public commitment to make things right.

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