The media won't stop asking questions and covering the Tiger Woods accident. Up until now, Tiger had a squeaky clean image. But with the hint of a scandal and unanswered questions, it's become a media circus and a problem for his reputation.
What should he do? One of his mistakes was to retreat. When a crisis hits, the best strategy is to respond immediately, in person, and in a positive way. If there is any personal culpability take responsibility.
Tiger's website posted this statement:
"As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I'm pretty sore.
This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again.
This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.
The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.
This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be."
While it's a good statement, his mistake was not showing up to deliver the message in person. Trust is increased when people meet face-to-face. Lawyers often advise against saying anything in public. Even if he doesn't answer questions, he can still speak for himself. People want to hear from the person and not read a public relations statement. He needs to manage his reputation. As Michael Paul, a crisis communication expert so eloquently put it, "Image is what people think you are. Reputation is what you are."