Monday, April 5, 2010

Tiger's PR machine: Pure genius

Those handling Tiger Woods image are really doing a good job.

The key to rehabilitating an image - or creating it - is to control the media environment. You can't let the media take control, you must control them.

Tiger has done it perfectly. Today's interview was the logical next step in a two-month process.

First he started out with a statement in the PGA Headquarters in February. No questions. Just a prepared statement that had probably been at least a few weeks in the works.

Later, he lets two television networks - ESPN and the Golf Channel - have five minute interviews. Both were interviews were conducted standing up and the ESPN reporter was asking questions off the top of his head - not from notes. Tiger gave up a little control by allowing someone to ask questions. But the length and format of the interview kept things in check for Tiger.

Today, he gave his first press conference in front of more than 200 reporters at the Masters Tournament. This is probably the best move of all.

The officials at Augusta National maintain a tight grip on the media and how it conducts itself. Augusta National controls the situation on and off the course when it comes to information and the media room and format of today's interview was a safe first outing for Tiger.

While I like sports reporters, they are not as aggressive as ...oh, say... a TMZ vulture. There were some good questions today - including one from our own sports editor Lance Lahnert - but questions like "How's your knee" and "Will you play in the Ryder Cup" were useless and no one cared.

The story was about Tiger and his life since Thanksgiving, not about his golf game.

But I think his handlers knew out of a 30 minute interview, 15 minutes of it would be softball questions.

There were a few pointed questions, but Tiger was well coached to handle these situations.

He gave very short answers to the questions he really didn't want to answer (the problem most people run into with the media is when they talk TOO much, not when the don't talk enough) and he just didn't answer some of the questions.

When asked if he should return to golf while still trying to repair his relationship with his wife, he answered: "Well, I'm excited to play this week."

Tiger has controlled this situation from start to today. The media will tire of this story after a while and he will go back to being a golf star first and People Magazine cover second.

That will happen sooner if he's in the running on Sunday.

Like it or not, the public is very forgiving, especially to someone who admits he screwed up.

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