Fore! Woods Continues Ride on PR Roller Coaster

Tiger Woods’ career was defined by massive success and glory until a Black Friday car crash in 2009 that sparked one of the most infamous public relations disasters in sports history.

Woods’ failed to control the damage to his reputation and committed six PR mistakes, as evidenced by PRSA’s blog in 2010:

  1. Silence – Woods remained silent while the crisis brewed.
  2. Refusal to speak with police – Woods’ lack of cooperation fueled speculation.
  3. Criticizing the media – Woods denounced the media.
  4. Refusing to provide details – Vague terms led to assumptions of the worst.
  5. Restrictive interviews – Although Woods eventually spoke, it failed to add clarity to the situation.
  6. Creating distraction – By participating in the 2010 Masters, Woods grew the spectacle to uncontrollable levels.

Due to Woods’ mistakes, his clean and humble brand evaporated and major sponsors like Gillette and Gatorade fled.

But the infamous car crash wasn’t the only tumultuous turn of Woods’ career. Following inconsistent play on the course and failing to win a major tournament since 2008, Woods’ career took another detour in 2017. Early on May 29, 2017, Woods’ was arrested in Florida on a D.U.I. charge with five drugs in his system.

Despite maintaining a mostly clean record in the years following the 2009 scandal, Woods took a major a step back in 2017, one who many thought would end his career. So, how did Woods recover to rocket back onto golf’s biggest stage (The Masters) a year later?

The answer lies in several key PR strategies and Woods’ previous experience with PR nightmares. Mike Michalozicz, author of Profit First an award-winning accounting guide, showed how Woods, like a Phoenix, rose from the ashes of public relations failure.

Michalozic’s blog post highlights the steps Woods took that helped him re-build his brand.

  1. Acknowledge your mistakes – Woods learned from his 2009 crisis and addressed his arrest right away and didn’t allow the story to build.
  2. Dump your old ways – Woods started fresh with new coaches, caddies and even his swing. Woods understood change needed to take place.
  3. Rebuild – Like a business, Woods started at the foundation and restructured his life with new fitness plans, diets and guidance from mentors.

Woods’ roller coaster ride reached a peak in 2018. Golf’s viewership has grown substantially since Woods has returned to his first Master’s tournament since 2015. The only question that arises is will Woods maintain his success or return to his shortcomings of the past?

Will Tiger’s past or future define him?

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