Thursday, 26 May 2011

How not to handle the media!

Can people change? I’ve always taken a charitable view of human nature and have chosen to believe that individuals can turn their lives around, learn a little humility and begin to act a little differently towards their fellow humans. But, I have to say, Tiger Woods is sorely testing this theory!

His post-round interview at the US Masters in April was a monument to stonewalling. It went like this:

Q1: Do you feel you played well enough to win? Answer: “One stroke back. We’ll see.”

Q2. Do you feel you are back in the swing now? Answer: “One stroke back. We’ll see.”

Q3. (Interviewer clearly getting flustered) What are your plans now, are you going to the driving range? Answer: “Gonna eat. I’m starved.”

Thank you Tiger for that in-depth analysis. OK, maybe he was deeply disappointed in his performance (if he’d have made a few more of the putts he used to make he’d have won at a canter) but a little civility towards the poor interviewer and some information for the viewers would not have gone amiss.

Anyway, all of this almost pales into insignificance compared to tweets from Mr Woods and entourage this week.

Firstly, Greg McLaughlin, head of the Tiger Woods Foundation. “Tiger Woods arrives in Philly for AT&T National media day tomorrow. Puts the % of media questions re injury & US Open at greater than 50%”. Ha ha ha!

This was followed by Mr Woods himself a day later with: “Almost press conference time. I’ll donate $1 million to the TW Foundation if no one asks about the leg” and “Press Conference time. Off to visit with my best friends”.

There are several points here. Firstly, Woods is still clearly very angry at the media and seems unable to distinguish between golf writers who bizarrely want to write about golf and The National Enquirer who want to write about his ‘indiscretions’. As any decent PR person will tell you, never ever put an angry person in front of the media and don't give them access to a Twitter account.

Secondly, Geoff Shackelford, the American golf blogger, made this point on Tuesday: “It really is remarkable that at this point they call a press conference after everything that happened - namely the lies - and hope to get nothing but fawning softballs.” Well yes exactly Geoff, the idea that professional golf journalists are going to go to a press conference and not ask about the #1 subject in golf at the moment, namely Woods’ leg, is extraordinary!

One final point. There was much discussion at the time of Woods’ car accident about his need for professional PR support. Personally I was doubtful and the train wreck of the stage managed press conference in Florida confirmed my instincts that he doesn’t listen to anybody.

Now I’m not so sure. Somebody, somewhere has to try and get through to him because we are watching a career, an image, a brand and, most importantly, a life go from very bad to even worse!


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