Tiger Woods: A Social Media Perspective
It’s been pretty widely trumpeted that Tiger Woods’ handling of his accident over the weekend has been lame in terms of accepted PR/crisis response best practices. Page one of the Sunday New York Times sports section proclaimed it — and so did many other media and blogs. But how can we think about his relative silence – except for yesterday’s statement on his website – in social media terms?
Tiger Woods is known as a very private personality who seeks out media attention rarely and on his own terms as much as possible. So in a sense, his reaction to the current situation is consistent with his public persona. In other words, he’s being authentic Tiger Woods as we’ve known him.
Putting out a statement on his website is consistent with other important statements he’s made about his personal life – including his engagement to his wife. It implies that he cares most about his fans. If you read the language of the statement carefully, it appears that he sat and wrote it out himself without excessive input from handlers or minute wordsmithing by pros. Very personal.
The wisdom of this move is evident when sampling some of the thousands of comments from fans and other site visitors. The comments for the most part are hugely supportive. A commenter who gives credence to the tabloid reports fueling controversy in this incident gets slapped down by fans in subsequent posts. In their opinions, it’s the media and the police who are out of line. Tiger’s entitled to privacy and, ‘leave their man alone’!! Tiger’s core community is coming to his rescue.
However, when you get into the Twittersphere and other social venues not monopolized by fans, support is overcome by other sentiment. Negative speculation about Woods’ marital fidelity from individuals and blogs abounds. For example, one much-re-tweeted link celebrates his ‘downfall’ with schadenfreude and raises the idea that Woods’ private approach and concern for his brand are only about protecting endorsement deals.
This afternoon legal commentators on cable news have opined that there is little legal fallout that could come out of this, however the media fire storm rages on. It will likely grow for awhile, fueled further by Tiger’s doubling down on privacy and pulling out of his charity golf tournament later this week.
So what else could he do to remain true to his chosen course of public action – or inaction – that would dampen down the flames?
Hopefully Woods and his team are measuring sentiment pro and con – throughout the traditional and social media worlds. And I imagine they are working behind the scenes on his business relationships with sponsors and the brands he endorses. Should unfavorable opinion grow to a level that might shake those relationships, it seems to me that he could further acknowledge the trust he has in his fans by asking them to share with these companies what’s really important to them about Tiger. I’ll bet that the people who cared enough to post on his official website would be happy to post on a brand or product’s fan page on his behalf.
What do you think? It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out from a social media point of view.
I chose Harold Arlen’s Ill Wind (You’re blowin’ me no good) sung by the incomparable Billie Holiday as the musical companion to this post. Think it’s an appropriate theme. It runs 6:14 and I know you’ll read the post faster than that. So maybe you’ll use the extra time to post your comment – or just relax and listen for a couple of minutes. Billie is amazing and the other musicians are so superb…Harry “Sweets” Edison on trumpet, Ben Webster on tenor sax, Jimmy Rowles on piano, Barney Kessel on guitar, Joe Mondragon on bass and Alvin Stoller on drums.
Enjoy and see you soon!