In my previous posts regarding Tiger Woods, I discussed how his NOT talking was hurting him. He was being quiet while the rest of the world was talking - and what the rest of the world was talking about was not good. Sadly, Tiger's representatives were adhering to the old-school philosophy of public relations: that they can control the message.
If you are unfamiliar with that type of logic let me explain. Back in the day before social media and websites like TMZ.com, public relations was all about controlling the message. The PR machines would hold their press conferences when they wanted, they would only release statements that they wanted and they dictated what the newspapers and talk-show hosts would talk about. A good PR person would be able to spin a story and the major media corporations then ran with that story.
That is now an archaic model. As anyone who is familiar with todays internet will tell you - that just doesn't work anymore. We've seen how certain videos can go viral within hours on youtube, something can take over the trending topics on twitter within minutes and sites like stumbleupon, Digg, Technorati and others spread news at such a fast rate that everyone finds out about it within hours.
It is because of this that PR machines can no longer "control" the message. At best, what you can do is help direct which way you'd like the discussion to go - almost like a discussion leader would do in a group setting. You can't dictate what people will say, but you can at least give them some direction. This is what Tiger should have realized right away - sadly he didn't, so the message went anywhere and everywhere with no direction coming from Tiger.
With that said, Tiger is starting to do some things that are going to help start directing the message more. He gave his apology in a lengthy prepared statement. He gave a 5 minute interview to ESPN and he is going to return to golf at The Masters. All of these steps are starting to direct the message in a way that will help Tiger Woods return to golf. While he will never have the universal respect that he once did, these steps are at least beginning to help the process along.
I will say that the decision to come back at The Masters was a great decision. The Masters is better than anyone at being an old-school style facility. They are a private club that determines who gets in and who is shut out. They can decide which media members will get passes and who doesn't. This means that someone from TMZ probably is not going to get a media pass to this event. Hecklers will be at a minimum and will be swiftly thrown out if they cause a disturbance. So Tiger's first event back - which could have been a disaster - is going to help by being more controlled than other events would be.
Overall, I still think Tiger Woods could have done a much better job with his brand. It is now damaged so severely that he is going to have to create a new brand - and it is going to be very hard to do so. However, his current actions are at least a starting point.