Tiger’s Tooth and a PR Communication Lesson

If you haven’t seen it already, the blindingly white smile of Tiger Woods lost a bit its shimmer this week as one of his front choppers went missing. Of course, this wouldn’t be much of a story if the reasoning for the disappearance of the tooth wasn’t so perplexing. According to his camp, Tiger lost the tooth at his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn’s recent World Cup ski event when a cameraman accidently ran into Tiger’s mush in a media frenzy. The problem with the story is that there is no video evidence of the event, which is odd when you consider that most reporters usually have some sort of recording device and in a crowd of them, you would think someone would have captured a few pics of Toothgate. Additionally, a spokesperson for the World Cup ski event claims that no such incident occurred, leaving us to conclude, at very least, that something is fishy about Tiger’s story. Whatever the truth may be, it’s clear that his PR team has created a controversial story where there probably shouldn’t have been one at all. Here are six-and-a-half lessons about truth in communication that we can learn from the Woods PR team.

1. Honesty is the new ‘spin’. We are a forgiving country and unless the real story is criminal, why lie about it? We love Alec Baldwin despite repeated reckless run-ins with paparazzi. We’ve elected politicians knowing full well that they were philanderers when we punched our ballots. And somehow Mike Tyson has gone from a convict to that guy who makes lovable cameo appearances in comedies. Why spin when we love a reclamation story?
2. Lying once creates other lies. The main problem with lying is that you have to remember the lies. When I was in high school I once skipped school to go see a matinee showing of Star Wars. Weeks later, my mom asked me why I hadn’t gone yet, since I was so excited about it before its release. I had gone of course, so I was forced to remember my lie. I stammered and told her that I would see it eventually, but my eyes told the whole story. Busted!
3. Sometimes the cover-up is worse than the crime. In the case of Woods, the cover-up story is so curious that it allows our imaginations to run wild. When in fact, it’s highly likely that the scenarios playing out in our minds are likely far less scandalous than the actual truth.
4. The truth makes you human. Let’s say, just for fun, that the world’s favorite tooth was lost in a bar fight. This would be a situation in which most guys have been before… well, not me because I’m sort of a wimp… but the point is that it’s a ‘regular-guy’ story and it’s nice to hear occasionally that celebrities and athletes aren’t robots.
5. The boy who cried wolf. It’s possible that the tooth story is true, but history shows us that we can’t trust the messenger. Sorry Tiger, you had the weird episode a few years ago with your ex-wife and we never really got the full story on that, so believing this latest chapter from your team is just hard to do.
6. Lies create an unfortunate distraction. That’s right, there actually was a real story here: Lindsey Vonn won her record 63rd World Cup victory! It’s an amazing feat and her success is buried because of the weird tooth story.

And 6.5: Please tell the truth because, frankly, I’m selfish and I want to know.My mind is racing with the possibilities that this story holds and hopefully someday we will find out the truth in “The Tiger Woods Story” on Lifetime.

Categories: Effective Communication Personal Brand Strategy