This week the sports world confronted the news that Tiger Woods was arrested on Memorial Day for driving under the influence. I posted about the golfer’s rebranding effort last year and how the public loves a comeback story. Unfortunately for Tiger, this is not the right brand of déjà vu.
The fact that he passed two breathalyzer tests—after being found asleep at the wheel and failing a field sobriety test—is noteworthy. Woods asserts that he was not drunk, but that he had mixed medications that were prescribed for his recovery from spinal fusion surgery.
Good crisis communications can earn you the chance to receive the benefit of the doubt from your stakeholders. Multiple transgressions, however, greatly increase public skepticism.
Abundant transparency would help in Tiger’s current situation. What were the medications? What were the circumstances in which he found himself at the wheel? What action is he taking to address the problem? Tiger can use this episode as a chance to cast light on the perils of strong prescription painkillers. Or, he can withhold information and watch his story seep into the media in small doses that will prolong the negative headlines.
Transparency and authenticity are important ingredients in dealing with crisis. At this point, Tiger and his advisers should know that from experience.