Tiger in the Tank
Tiger Woods and his women were front-page stories in The New York Post for 20 consecutive days starting Nov. 30.
Raunchy Tiger jokes were all over late-night TV and the Internet, and a set of Tiger Woods Commemorative Mistress Plates was offered on YouTube.
In a bizarre twist, the December Golf Digest (a Tiger Woods sponsor) hit the newsstands with a cover depicting Tiger Woods and President Obama intently studying a putt. The cover line: "10 Tips Obama Can Take from Tiger." This jibed with Keith Olbermann’s throwaway line on MSNBC, "Tiger is having trouble with his putz."
This incredible reality show was entirely authored by Tiger Woods. Check the publicity photo at right. Then add to this depiction of a happy family with children and dogs the myriad of highly charged accounts, interviews and photos of tawdry, scantily clad women, and you not only sell newspapers and magazines big time, but also enjoy astronomical TV ratings and zillions of Internet hits. Google "'Tiger Woods' and women," and you’ll get 32.2 million entries.
Like Watergate, Monica Lewinsky and O.J. Simpson, this story has a very long fuse. When an icon is disgraced, it makes us all feel virtuous.
The PR Ramifications
This saga started with a curious car crash, morphed into a PR crisis, and wound up as a full-fledged personal and professional catastrophe.
Early on, public relations experts and media pundits—including CNBC’s brash Larry Kudlow—counseled that Tiger should "fess up" and get out in front of this story or his $100 million endorsements would be in jeopardy. In the words of Michael Levine in "Guerilla P.R. 2.0":
One of the single most important points to keep in mind when facing a negative situation of your own is to follow the old dictum: "The best defense is a good offense. You must never go on the defensive. By anticipating negative questions you can stand ready with positives."