Note to Tiger: Just Phone it in

A lot of “worlds” will be waiting to hear what Tiger Woods will say tomorrow when he comes out of self-imposed exile to tell the world what he’s been doing the past 12 or so weeks.  More precisely, he’ll offer some insight on his life and times since November 27, 2009, the day he crashed his vehicle into a tree outside his Florida home.

There’s the sports world in general, the golf world in particular, the paparazzi/tabloid world, the business world, the media world and a lot more.   No doubt Tiger’s wife and family want to know what’s on his mind, too.

You’ve heard the agenda: Woods will not hold a press conference in the traditional sense.  You know, the kind where members of the media get to ask questions.  Tiger will deliver a statement to wire service reporters and pool reporters recommended by the Golf Writers Association of America.  There will be no questions.

Note to Tiger: Just phone it in.  Because, that’s in essence what you’ll be doing tomorrow.

The actions that led to Woods’ marital problems and resulting firestorm of coverage by the mainstream media and within the blogosphere constituted a nasty, immediate crisis.  The golf icon’s best strategy at the time would be to address the situation promptly and in person. He decided to issue a statement.

Tomorrow’s event won’t be much different in terms of its effectiveness because the message will be one-sided, static.  Hopefully, Tiger’s public relations counsel advised him to step forward and begin a dialog.  Delivering a monologue will only keep this incendiary story burning bright.

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More Than Just Random Thoughts on PR & Other Stuff

As the (digital) clock on my monitor clicks down on another year and another decade, here are some thoughts on public relations and observations on the world around me.

PR’s Goal for 2010 and Beyond. Every man and woman who works in our profession should make a conscious effort to deliver the message that public relations is a modern practice built upon strategic, measurable communications.  It’s not marketing, it’s not “spin” and it’s not purely publicity.  It is based on truth, accuracy and full disclosure, and its results should have some redeeming factors to people, animals and/or plants.  Those who think otherwise are practicing something else.

I applaud the Public Relations Society of America for launching The Business Case for Public Relations. Take time to become familiar with this campaign.  And, for the record, I am a member of PRSA.

We’re Not Flacks, Spin Doctors or Propogandists. Or simply publicists for that matter. With all due respect to our friends and colleagues in the media, what’s so difficult about identifying a public relations professional as a public relations professional?  Journalists strive for accuracy, yet they sometimes put forth inaccurate definitions of those of us in this industry.

This is Not Your Father’s PR Industry Anymore. Perhaps I’m showing my age through this reference to a pretty good automotive campaign for a brand no longer on the road — Oldsmobile. But beneath it all, public relations is about communicating.  And the way we communicated a decade ago — heck, even 365 days ago — has changed dramatically and will change as new technology emerges and topples the status quo. Those of us who will thrive will embrace new ways of communicating, but without abandoning such fundamentals as adhering to ethical standards, accuracy, open disclosure and free exchange of ideas.

Hey, We’re Not Miracle Workers. When big, scandalous news stories break — like Tiger Woods reported and purported dalliances off the golf course — there are the occasional references to “bad PR.” Yes, that’s true: The public perception of the subject usually takes a whallop. But scandalous behavior usually is not written into a public relations plan, at least none that I’ve researched, written and presented to a client. Let’s be clear on what PR can do, and what it can’t do.  PR can’t stop people from doing dumb things.

They Like Me! They Really Like Me! Okay. Enough with the references to popular culture (this one from an Oscar-winning film star; you tell me who it was).  Since entering the consulting arena, I’ve found that there is a significant market for my services.  I’ve taken on projects that range from copywriting and research to providing strategic direction and counsel, the stuff I really want to do. This leads me to proclaim that there is and always will  be a market and demand for PR professionals who can deliver good work on time and within budget.

I Hope Tomorrow You’ll Find Better Things*. Wishing all who read this blog a safe and prosperous 2010. I thank you for providing substance to my thoughts and observations. My goal for 2010 remains to secure a new full-time position where I can apply my skills, learn and advance.  Until then, I will continue to seek opportunities through project work, volunteer to make things around me better and write this blog.

*A line from “Better Things,” written by Ray Davies and performed by one of my favorite bands of all time, The Kinks.

This Time, Tiger Woods is Not Burning all That Bright*

Since Tiger Woods wrecked his SUV outside the gates of his Florida mansion, all forms of media have reached out to public relations professionals for commentary. The general consensus: The greatest golfer of our time — perhaps all time — and one of the most admired, accomplished, recognized and wealthy athletes on the globe knows how to win tournaments, but he doesn’t know how to manage a public relations crisis.

Experts with credentials that range from the White House on down pointed out that Woods blew it. Regardless of why he was cruising around his gated community (at an apparently high rate of speed) at 2:30 a.m. or thereabouts November 27, Woods should have stepped forward and provided an explanation. The truth behind his day-after-Thanksgiving escapade may be embarrassing, but classic crisis communications procedures maintain:

1. Tell the truth early. (Woods should have made an initial statement Saturday in person.)
2. Have the message delivered by the highest-level source. (Woods.)
3. Offer to provide further details. (Like his ability to play golf in future tournaments.)

Well, clearly Woods did not follow these time-honored procedures. Why? Perhaps he did not want to. Perhaps he did not believe he had to because he’s Tiger Woods.

One must believe that a man who’s been in the public spotlight for many years, one who’s earned millions and millions of dollars, would have been counseled on how to effectively proceed following his “accident.” Apparently, the greatest golfer in the world ignored advice from those around him.

The point here: public relations professionals give advice to clients during a crisis and in other situations where someone wants an answer. That advice is not always followed — for whatever reason.

*With all due respect to William Blake (1757-1827) the British poet who penned “The Tyger,” one of the greatest poems in the English language.