Talking Tiger

Poor Tiger Woods. He's still being pursued by the news media. He's scheduled a news conference before the Masters begins, but what's the point? Really? We know he's not going to reveal new details about what happened the night he crashed his car, or about the nights he apparently "crashed" with a variety of women, none of whom were his wife.  Do we really need to know?

Pundits galore have insisted he's got to confess, go on Oprah. Some of my colleagues in town and I have chatted about what Tiger should or shouldn't do. Quite frankly, I may be the only communications practitioner who thinks Tiger doesn't need to say another word.  He gains nothing.

His statement before friends and family a few weeks back was well-constructed and secure. Later, he spoke to golf journalists briefly to break the ice. He was rehearsed and unnatural, but this is a guy who has never been open. And why should anyone be surprised that the world's greatest athlete has  been "coached"  to help him communicate off the greens? 

To his credit, in his presentation, he provided more detail than anticipated. He controlled the environment and content. There is nothing wrong with that. News media got information and the public, Tiger's fans, got to see him confess to significant wrongdoing.

(I would note the one element I thought fell short. When Tiger asked the news media to stop following his wife and children, he should have presented the request as coming from Elin, not Tiger. Kind of hard to buy Tiger as the protector of family after he just confessed to transgressions.)

In spite of his visibility and how he has crossed over from sports into mainstream celebrity-dom; Tiger remains a golfer. The world's greatest golfer, but an athlete. He's  not making law; he's not saving lives. 

The key to a strategic communications plan is effectively identifying the audiences. Who do you need to speak to and influence? In Tiger's case, the reality is that his primary audiences include his wife and family, sponsors/business partners, the golf industry and then his fans.   

His fans are many and varied. Many have forgiven, have moved on, and many really don't care; they just want him to play golf. And if he plays great golf, his fans won't leave him. It's obvious that he's working on mending the damage to family and business relationships.  

Despite a messy beginning, Tiger and his peeps (am writing this on Easter Sunday) are managing the story. So far, its seems they're ignoring calls to be more "confessional" through a visit with Oprah.   

He doesn't have to share details. It won't change a thing. All he needs to do is play a great game of golf. It will be interesting to see what questions he will be asked this week; who will be brave or crass enough to ask for new information about his infidelities.

Tiger is moving forward where he needs to -- on the golf course.