Authenticity is part of the equation

The world’s most famous golfer, Tiger Woods, did his mea culpa before the cameras.  And it was the mother of all apologies.

Without question, Woods received the advice of some of the best public relations professionals around.  Everything was perfectly choreographed and under control.

There were no journalists to ask difficult questions.  Only a team of cameramen was present.  He read from a well-thought out script in which he accepted responsibility for his actions.  He showed emotion.  He apologized.  He admitted he has a problem and that he’s trying to overcome it.

All of this was essential to begin his corporate rehabilitation.  He has lost many sponsors and he had to put a stop to this situation.

The event was, without a doubt, effective and well-planned.  It actually seemed like the script had stage directions to indicate when he should stop reading and look at the camera.  Just like a real professional politician.

However, I think that it was overly staged and controlled which led to its losing authenticity.  I have no doubt that Tiger Woods is sorry for what he did, but I think that he could have been more natural, more like a normal human being.  Even when he kissed his mother at the end of the event seemed part of the script.  It seemed as if it had been planned in advance.

Tiger could have diverted from his script for a few seconds and spoken from the bottom of his heart.  This would have lent a needed degree of spontaneity.  Even allowing a couple of questions from the press would have made it seem less of a controlled event.  I understand that he and his advisors didn’t want to turn his first public appearance in three months into a media circus, but I think they went overboard.  The result has been very little authenticity, resulting in less credibility.

In this type of circumstances, where your career is at play, the intelligent thing to do is to ask for advice from crisis management experts.  But, you cannot allow yourself to be completely managed by these experts.  You cannot stop being who you are.  The cameras capture and magnify everything.  If you stop being yourself, those cameras will relay that image, which will become the “you” that millions of people will end up seeing.

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