Tiger Woods finally spoke about his transgressions and apologized for his “irresponsible and selfish behavior.” But what does it all mean for his image now that he has taken responsibility for his actions? ESSENCE.com spoke with crisis management consultant Judy Smith who has had a high-profile career handling a wide array of crises involving Fortune 500 companies, political figures, celebrity and sports figures. ESSENCE.com: After watching Tiger and listening to his statement, do you think he was able to convey the message he wanted to?
JUDY SMITH: Yes. During a crisis there will always be criticism that statements such as this were not “managed” correctly or that the person involved should have said more, said less, or made their remarks in a different manner. Usually these are from individuals that have something to gain from those who have fallen, competitors, journalists or other adversaries. However, as someone who has had a long career in crisis management and been in the room as strategy was being formulated to deal with these types of high stakes moments, I can tell you first hand, that from a communications perspective, Tiger’s statement today contained important elements and themes that will make the process of his redemption much more plausible. ESSENCE.com: What were your feelings on the press conference by invitation only and no questions allowed?
SMITH: While his actions today may not have been done in a manner or style that suits everyone, and there will be continued criticism of the media’s restricted access and the tightly controlled atmosphere surrounding the statement itself, it is important to remember that ultimately this was the format best suited for Tiger Woods. The event and prepared remarks were designed to allow him the opportunity to convey his message in what for him would be the most optimum manner, unfiltered, unedited, and direct. He might have, however, made a point of addressing why he chose to do it this way. ESSENCE.com: What key points do you think Tiger made or should have made? SMITH:
Ownership of and responsibility for his actions, a sincere apology to his fans, his wife and family, his sponsors and to golf. Asking the American people for forgiveness (he went one step further and asked for help. He needed to set the record straight regarding all the rumors that had been defining the media coverage of this controversy such as the alleged assault by his wife, the allegations of domestic violence, and reports of drug use. He needed to convince the public that he meant what he said and that his life would be on a different track; that he was actively working on changing himself by taking these steps and engaging in therapy. He needed to declare that he was going to devote his time to repairing the damage done to his family, in particular his wife and kids. ESSENCE.com: Will Tiger ever make a full comeback? Will it be the same Tiger Woods before the scandal? SMITH:
Because of the crisis Tiger will never be the same Tiger. No amount of words or statements will repair the damage done, you can’t put the genie back into the bottle, but what he will be able to do is to move on from this and create an image that is acceptable to golf and most of the public ESSENCE.com: Did he do anything that you question? SMITH:
I feel he would have been more effective if he weren’t reading from his notes. It would seem more heartfelt if he were looking at the camera and the people there. I didn’t care for the hugging of everyone in the front row when he was finished. It felt staged. ESSENCE.com: What did you think of his remarks about being a Buddhist? SMITH:
It was a surprise but showed two things, one Tiger is willing to be more open and two that he was depending on a spiritual base to help set him straight. ESSENCE.com: Where does Tiger go from here? SMITH:
Up. His actions needs to match his words. He needs a strategic plan that helps to drive the rebuilding of his brand, his image and his philanthropic efforts. Read More: