We all have our opinions of Tiger Woods’ reading his typed, 14-minute apology. I know I do, but I wanted to hear what a professional crisis manager had to say. So, here goes, both an earful and an education in what not to do if you ever feel compelled to face the media for sexual indiscretions.
“First of all, he looked like a deer in head lights. I tell people if you can’t read with a great deal of sincerity, you’re crazy to do it that way,” counsels Richard Auletta, president of R.C. Auletta and Co. His Manhattan public relations firm has carved out a highly regarded niche for crisis management; mainly for cases so high profile you never know he did them.
“It was a badly staged effort that clearly had taken a lot of thought, but he might as well have sent out a press release,” remarks Auletta. He goes on to say Woods should have made a statement early in the scandal, that would have been about three months ago, admit he had liaisons with numerous women, say he was trying to repair his marriage and family life and ask for his privacy to be respected.
He goes on to say he counsels his clients in difficult circumstances to come clean to the crisis team from the very beginning to get a handle on what might be coming broadside, in this case that was 12 alleged broadsides. “I usually tell them ‘take a breath and think of this as a kidney stone, it’s gonna’ hurt a lot but as soon as it passes it’s over.”
Having your mother there is good, but not as good as having your wife by your side is the usual wisdom. That being said, just how wise was it to have best friend Byron Bell present? Bell, who is president of Tiger Woods Design, bought Rachel Uchitel, one of the 12, her ticket to hook up with Tiger in Australia. “What was the thought process that allowed people who had enabled him for years to be there?” questions Auletta.
“The classic Harvard Business School case is the 1982 Tylenol scare and that teaches you to get in front of the story, but that doesn’t always apply,” explains Auletta. “In that situation, Tylenol was not at fault, someone tampered with the product and the CEO had great communication skills, so Tylenol bounced back,” he points out.
Can Tiger bounce back if many aren’t buying the sincerity of his apology? “LA Laker Kobe Bryant rebounded, points out Auletta. The NBA player has become a bigger star than ever after a 2004 sex scandal and rape charges that were eventually dismissed.
If Tiger starts playing golf and winning again, the scandal will slowly fade into the past according to Auletta. “If he’s sincere about what he read, at the end of the day he’ll change,” and on that note we ended our conversation.