Tiger Woods' "Canned Apology" Draws Mixed Reactions
For the first time since his news of his sex scandal broke in November, Tiger Woods apologized to his wife, family and fans Friday -- and experts were mixed on how it went down.
Below, what they told UsMagazine.com:
Adam Goldberg, a crisis communications expert and partner at D.C.-based Orrick who served in the White House and advised President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal: "After doing everything wrong until now, Tiger finally took his first, strong step back to the greens. He looked vulnerable, publicly took responsibility for his choices and gave us reason to sympathize. His authentic apology hit just the right notes. The only off-note was mentioning his foundation's good works -- an unnecessary self-pat on the back and reminder. After this, don't tell me Tiger did the wrong thing by not taking questions and speaking to a small group. It was a perfect, intimate setting for his words. He'll face reporters before he competes again, but now wasn't the time for that."
Jorn Winther, media coach who has worked with Jennifer Aniston: "It would have been more effective if it wasn't a written statement -- that way you know the speech came from the heart. He was sincere, but it seemed too well-rehearsed. The only way he can reclaim his image instantly: If he single-handedly caught and killed Osama Bin Laden."
Ken Frydman, a partner at Source Communications, a NYC-based strategic consulting firm: "It is not a press conference if you don't let press ask questions! Tiger Woods' so-called 'press conference' and canned apology was a mistake. He said all the expected statements, but it was too little, too late. Tiger needs to go back to doing what he does best, which is playing golf. It is a huge mistake not to return to the course immediately. He has forfeited any chance of endorsing credible brands. I would never advise my clients to hire Tiger as a spokesperson. Nike should have dropped his endorsement deal months ago and I wouldn’t be surprised if they terminate it soon. Credible brands will not forgive him for misrepresenting himself and embarrassing them."
Ryan Schinman, CEO of Platinum Rye Entertainment, a PR firm that handles celebrity and sports endorsement deals: "His apology was definitely sincere -- but predictable. Nothing shocking in his prepared statement other than how adamant he was that there was never any domestic violence. It was also longer than expected. To improve his public image, Tiger should come out from behind the curtain a little more frequently and not be so robotic when it comes to dealing with the press and the public. He has shown his fallibility, so now it's time to be a little more easy-going and authentically human. Not everything in life has to be scripted. And if he wants the public to stop hounding and chasing him, making himself more available and less secluded is an easy way to do that."
Tom Cosentino, president of New Jersey-based iMedia Public Relations: "I still believe that this session could have occurred in December and would have helped him deflate some of the falsehoods he claims have appeared in print. I don’t believe there was anything he said today that he could not have said in December. If Woods had addressed the situation in the early days following his accident ... he would have been better served. His strongest reaction was in putting down rumors of his wife hitting him on Thanksgiving night. Obviously, their relationship is rocky."
Erit Yellen, a sports media consultant: "The press conference was really unnecessary and more important, not effective. Fans, myself included, are looking for a humanized Tiger Woods who is okay with admitting that there were multiple mistakes that he had made for various reasons that he could possibly disclose. A one-on-one interview with someone like Matt Lauer would make much more sense where no questions are off-limits. Tiger should have gotten some advice from Conan O'Brien with his last statement to his fans: sincere, truthful, concise and timely. That's all we want."
Richard Laermer, author of Full Frontal PR: "This was so rehearsed, he looked like a cartoon character -- not natural at all. And his talk about core values? The man acted like a sociopath. Boundaries? He was a typical celebrity who pretended to be a good man -- a self-made solid citizen -- and was simply a cheater. I think he needs to stop talking now. Actions as always speak louder."
Don Tanner, a brand and reputation management expert: "His apology appeared very sincere and contrite. He apologized, admitted his failings, blamed no one but himself and vowed to be a better person, husband, father. He also appeared to have tears in his eyes and his voice caught a few times. Finally, his not announcing when he will return was important. He is indicating, as such, how unimportant that is in the scheme of life."
Mark Stevens, image consultant and author of Your Marketing Sucks: "If he wanted to come clean, he would take questions. His own continuing need for perfection, for adulation, puts him in a place from which there is no easy exit."