Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 11:24 AM

Tiger Woods and crisis communications

(Image Credit: Robert Beck/SI)
The Tiger Woods incident has been analyzed beyond recognition in the past week. If you're interested in lengthy analysis - both useful and not so useful - click here.

I have no intention of adding to the mountain of unsolicited advice being thrown Tiger's way. Nonetheless, the Woods situation has dusted off a few inevitable rules that hold firm when the press and the public set their crosshairs on you. If your company has never been through a public relations crisis, bookmark this page for a rainy day.

1. Information vacuums are the breeding ground of speculation. If you don't fill it with facts, somebody else will fill it with rumors.

2. To paraphrase best-selling author Tim Ferriss, being successful inevitably means ticking people off.

3. There is a universal disconnect between a company/celebrity's view of the right to privacy and the press/public's view of the right to privacy.

4. Assuming that journalists and talk show hosts won't speculate - often times wildly - in the absence of facts is foolish. Ratings and 24-hour news cycles require otherwise.

5. Posting vague statements on a website that may as well have been written by a publicist rarely satisfy the press or the public. They lack sincerity and accountability. Ask Serena Williams and ACORN.
If your company has been through a public relations crisis, chances are good these rules applied. They clearly transcend business, politics, sports, and entertainment. What's less clear is whether the broader business community will view Tiger's situation as a teachable moment and plan accordingly for the next crisis.

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Blogger Robbie Vorhaus said...

Great Tiger Woods blog. Thought you may interested in my Huffington Post blog:

let's keep in touch.

December 1, 2009 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Henry Fawell said...

Thanks for your comments, John. Two points: First, contrition and accountability go a long way in a crisis. Second, deeds (i.e. charitable work like Agassi's often say more about you than words). Those are two reasons why Agassi seems to be weathering this story well.

December 7, 2009 at 2:08 PM  

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