Crisis Communication: Tiger Woods Scandal
November 29, 2009 was a day that changed the lives of Tiger Woods and everyone involved in his circle. What started out as a crash into a tree outside his home later turned into months of scandal that resulted in lost business partners and ultimately his marriage five years to Elin Nordegren. From that time on, Tiger was in a free fall as mistress after mistress stepped forward admitting to affairs with Woods. There was no communication from Woods’ camp until February 19, 2010. This day, he issued a press conference with those attending including his mother, issuing an apology to his fans, friends and business partners that have supported him over the years. Unfortunately, Woods delay was costly. According to a poll conducted from December 16-20 by CNN, Woods’ favorable rating fell from 60 percent in early December, to 34 percent at the time of the survey (Cable News Network [CNN], 2009, para. 2). After his apology, one of his biggest endorsers, Gatorade, ended their partnership with Woods. His delay also allowed tabloids to have a field day concerning multiple alleged affairs and plastering his image over many magazine covers. He also became daily fodder for radio stations as they played discovered voice mail messages that were left for alleged mistresses. This was clearly a man (or business) that was in crisis mode. This crisis became an issue that got worst for Tiger Woods the more he tried to control it. By not speaking on the issue, the public may have perceived his silence as arrogance. I believe the public controlled the crisis as they do when many celebrities are embroiled in scandal. As long as the public kept the perception going, There will be the low polls, and next could be reduced attendance at golfing events when he is in attendance.
Was this apology enough, or was it a little too late after having the public wait three months to address why a public figure so adored would commit an act so offensive? As a part of this analysis, I will comment on the apology by going over key points in the speech and speak on its overall delivery and timing. Image Repair
In repairing his image, Woods must realize a general rule: it is not the question of if the act was offensive, rather, if it is believed by the audience to be offensive (Benoit, 1997, p. 178). Benoit (Benoit, 2009, p. 41) is behind a variety of possible image repair strategies that he used to analyze speeches such as George W. Bush’s after the controversy following Hurricane Katrina. Those strategies are as follows: 1. Denial – Simply saying that the accused didn’t commit the offense. The next level includes shifting blame. 2. Evasion of Responsibility – Broken down into four forms: a. Offense was offended as part of an understandable response to another offense. b. Known as defeasibility, the accused should not be blamed due to lack fo information or control over the act. c. The act was an accident or mishap.
d. The act was committed with good intentions. 3. Reducing Offensiveness – An attempt to reduce perceived offensiveness by using one of six versions: a. Bolstering – Offsetting negative feelings behind act by accentuating the positive qualities of accused b. Minimization – To reduce severity of the consequences of the wrongful act. c. Differentiation – Comparing the act in question to similar but less desirable acts. d. Transcendence – Attempting to place the offensive act in a more favorable light. e. Attack accuser
4. Corrective Action – Promise to take steps to correct and prevent future occurrences of problem. 5. Mortification – Sincere apologies and begging for forgiveness. With these...