While watching the circus of media coverage this week (Scott Van Pelt is reading Tiger’s apology verbatim as I type), it crossed my mind that social media might help Tiger Woods through his current crisis. Dave Van de Walle, Managing Principal of Area 224, expressed perfectly the reasons Tiger should turn to social media in a well-written blog post.
Van de Walle says that Tiger could learn a lesson or two from Michael Phelps, who accrued nearly three million fans on Facebook and used that channel to deal with PR issues on more than one occasion. His communication during the situations was two-way and authentic. He viewed his fans as conversations and interacted with them as much as one could expect from a professional athlete.
Tiger’s communication, on the other hand, has been limited and contrived. He posted a statement on his website this morning in which he asked for privacy and acknowledged his “transgressions.” Almost 1,000 readers have commented on the statement already. They can talk at Tiger but not with him, because fans are merely targets for his one-way, push communication.
The crisis isn’t going to disappear, but utilizing social media would be a good way for Tiger to be open and engaging throughout the ordeal. People will obviously lose trust and respect for him because of the nature of the situation, but I think being transparent could help Tiger build trust in the same way it has helped corporations who are willing to open up with social media.