Carefully Crafted on November 29

Crisis Communication: Tiger Woods

Practice makes perfect … at least that’s what we’re told. But, when it comes to crisis communication, PR people don’t often have the luxury of practice. There’s nothing quite like being in the midst of a real crisis situation. For starters, you need to keep a level head, be strategic, think quick and act even quicker — not exactly skills someone teaches you in a classroom.

StrategyOver the weekend, Tiger Woods found himself in the midst of a crisis situation. (I’m talking about this from a pure communication perspective. It’s none of my business if he and his wife are or aren’t having marital issues.) Thus far, Team Tiger has communicated virtually nothing to the general public. Meanwhile, Florida Highway Patrol revealed that Woods was in “serious condition,” leaving people to wonder what exactly happened at 2:30 in the morning to the one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

A crisis situation like this won’t just go away. And, in the absence of information, the rumor mill starts churning and misinformation takes center stage. Already, reporters and PR people have started explaining what they think Tiger should do next. It’s impossible to say with any kind of authority what Tiger’s strategy ought to be, because we don’t have the facts. That said, this does present PR people with an opportunity to say to themselves, “If this were my client, what counsel would I offer?”

So, whether you’re an crisis communication veteran — or a new pro wanting to try to be prepared for your first crisis — recognize this as a learning opportunity. Based on the information that we know, if you were part of Tiger’s inner circle of advisers, how would you suggest he proceed?

UPDATE: Tiger Woods just issued a statement. Check it out. See if that’s what you would have advised him to say. Keeping with the “workshop” theme, what’s the next move?

Photo credit: pshutterbug

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