Initially I vowed not comment on this whole Tiger Woods mess. As one who spends a lot of time coaching celebrities how to build a brand, I had no intention of being part of the bulldozer that tears one down. But I suppose given this past Friday’s events, I must finally follow Tiger’s lead and break my silence. Woods finally decided to issue a public apology, a move that without doubt decreased the value of his already suffering multimillion-dollar brand.
I won’t dally into Tiger’s personal choices because that is really none of my business. But his professional conduct is quite another matter.
So now let me cut to the point. If I were to write a letter directly to Tiger, it would read something like this…
Dear Mr. Woods:
Please fire your entire Public Relations team and personal advisers, IMMEDIATELY! It is clear they will cost you more money than the scandal itself. Your canned public apology was just the final nail in your well branded coffin.
Signed, Just Trying to Help!
The best thing I can do for all aspiring celebrities is to advise: Don’t be like Tiger! In this case, he did EVERYTHING wrong.
- Don’t hide – When the potential for a scandal is brewing release a written statement within 4-12 hours. The longer you wait the more it appears you are trying to concoct an untruth.
- Don’t dodge – Dodging the media is also a big mistake. A press conference should be called within 24-36 hours.
- Don’t fake it – You must be sincere in any attempt at apologizing for or explaining your actions. Reading like a robot is a sure sign that you have been prepped and you are more likely to appear insincere.
- Don’t deny – If there is even a LITTLE truth to the rumor, then don’t deny it or try to spin it. The truth always comes to the light. Don’t add being a liar to any list of offenses.
- Don’t tell your friends – You will be surprised how quickly friends will leak info to the press. Stirring the pot is fun for many people, and even more so when money is involved. Friends and confidants get paid big money to spill the beans. So don’t share any information until you are ready to make a public statement.
- Don’t create an illusion – The cornerstone of a successful celebrity brand is AUTHENTICITY. Don’t pretend to be anything other than who you are. Fans don’t expect you to be perfect, only honest.
There is no doubt that the reason this scandal has caused such an uproar is because Tiger’s reality was so far removed from his public perception. I know that we would like to say that a celeb’s personal life should be separate from his lime life. But then again we all want cheaper taxes too. The truth is perception and reality are hopelessly tied together with no hope of ever driving a wedge betwixt them. There is a simple reason for this, when we buy into a celebrity brand, we buy the entire package not just the contents. Would you believe you were about to drink a Coke if it were in a blue can?
The public is a fickle mob. And while I don’t recommend living your life to suit them, I will warn you to be weary of their perceptions. Namely the inauthentic ones. Let the public decide if they want to buy a donkey or a race horse. Don’t sell them the race horse and then they find later its a donkey, that will cause a riot every time.
And lastly, we should all know that celebrity comes with a price. Celebs are role models without consciously choosing to be. That is the cost of being in the public eye and gaining benefit from that. While I understand not wanting to be publicly held accountable for private actions, that is the way the perpetual cookie crumbles. Sponsors pay for an image and perception, its called a ‘brand’.