Tiger Woods Makes a Predictable Mistake

Here’s a great article by Jerry Brown, who is a guru on crisis communication.  Take heed:

Tiger Woods Makes a Predictable Mistake

By Jerry Brown, APR

Tiger WoodsSome stories feel incomplete the first time you hear them.  They leave you feeling like there’s a lot being left unsaid.  And, of course, the part that’s being left out is the juicy part – the stuff you really want to hear.

That’s the kind of story that makes reporters dig deeper.  And the kind of story the rest of us are likely to follow as it unfolds.

Tiger Woods’ weekend car wreck was one of those stories.

Where was he going at 2:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving night?  How did he manage to get going fast enough right out of his driveway to knock himself silly?  What about that tabloid rumor he’s been fooling around with another woman?  Was he trying to get away because his wife was attacking him?

In his only comment so far, Woods refers to such speculation as “false, unfounded and malicious rumors.”  That may be true.  And you could argue it’s nobody’s business anyway.  After all, there’s no apparent crime and he didn’t hurt anyone but himself.

But Woods is a celebrity.  He’s canceled at least three appointments to discuss the wreck with the police.  And he’s being extremely secretive about what happened during an incident that should be easy to explain in detail.  If Woods’ version is true, the story goes away as soon as he fully explains what happened.  Keeping quiet keeps the story alive.

Woods is known as a man who protects his privacy.  Maybe that’s what’s going on here.  But his secrecy will keep the story alive longer than simply explaining what happened – even if the full story is more embarrassing than what he’s said so far.

One of the things that makes crisis communication so interesting is how often people who should know better make the same mistakes.  Clamming up in the face of bad news is one of the classic mistakes people make during a crisis.

What really happened Thursday night?  Stay tuned.  This story isn’t over yet.

In the meantime, here’s my advice for you:  Don’t make the mistake of keeping your bad story alive if you find yourself tempted to hide behind a wall of secrecy when your crisis arrives.

That’s my two cents’ worth.  What’s yours?


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