Friday, February 19, 2010

Tigers are Not Always Ferocious

Tiger Woods GolfAmericans are well conditioned on seeing a public figure apologize for their infidelity or crimes.  Its frequency is almost seasonal.  We are an unforgiving lot as you work your way to success; and take a morbid joy in seeing people stumble.  Inevitably, those who have a passion for what they do, brush themselves off and work on atonement, either with self deprecation or extra ambition to “do-good” in the world.  And as a culture, we love a comeback story.

Because we’re experienced in these matters we’ve become a bit more discerning.  For example, we no longer like it when a straying politician has his wife standing next to him in the limelight.  We prefer our tarnished stars take their lumps quickly and alone.

I’ve often felt public figures should hold themselves to slightly higher standards.  They have to manage their image, which is their brand; but they don’t NEED to be role models.  We just like it when they are because it takes the pressure off ourselves.

At some point in our lives, we are all role model for someone.  The question is, are me making a positive or negative difference?  Taking responsibility to be a role model builds in a level of accountability.  There’s that word again.  It’s okay, we know accountability keeps us focused.

Our responsibility pie has three slices, professional, personal and private.  The professional slice is how we pursue our career.  The personal slice contains the things that are unique to us as individuals; our opinions and beliefs.  The private slice is private; the things the world does not have a right nor a need to know.  When you’re a public figure, that slice of you life can get very thin.

Tiger Woods shared his remorse for his professional and personal transgressions during his press statement today.  His privacy, his relationship with his family, his rehabilitation and all that goes along with his own healing and redemption are private matters.  The public does not need to hear about them, and most don’t care.

As a sample of poor crisis and brand management the Tiger Woods matter is exemplary.  Anyone in customer service will tell you when there’s a problem, fix it and fix it fast.  Lay blame later.  Work on quality improvement initiatives on your own time.  Firs, solve the problem.

Some fans are calling Tiger Wood brave for his statement earlier in the day.  There was nothing brave about it.  It was the opening salvo of a rehabilitation campaign too long in coming.  His words may have been nice, and his delivery over coached and we may not know his sincerity for months to come.  We do know, addressing a group of friends, family, fans and the media like a sorrowful politician didn’t do him any favors.  Bravery is a press conference not an address.  Bravery is answering your critiques until you have exhausted their questions.

His words rang of him being selfish and apologizing for that.  Critics note his actions don't support this.  Choosing this medium on this day to speak was contrived.  Fans say it was the only opening on his schedule.  Selfish people never make room on their scedule.  Tiger Woods did not take the media spotlight today, it was given to him.  Supposed professionals continue to call his event a press conference, even though no questions were asked.  Networks continued to run his remarks in their entirely, “In case you missed it.  Just how important was it?

From a brand perspective, the goal is to get your unflattering stories out of the public light.  Tiger Woods, and those managing the personal and professional slices of his image have continued to keep the story alive.

A brand for a company is a promise.  A brand for an individual is called your reputation.  The reality is you cannot control your reputation, after all it’s noting more than other people’s perception of what you do.  The best you can do is know your values and beliefs and practice them everyday.  If you fail to, you will eventually fail.

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