What Can Tiger Woods Teach Us About Privacy?


There’s no doubt that Tiger Woods is a superstar. Since turning pro at 20, no other player has had more of an impact on the game of golf than Tiger. From his icy stares to his flawless drives and fist pumps, many argue that no golfer will ever be able to match Tiger’s greatness on the greens.

Naturally, as one of the world’s wealthiest and most popular athletes, he lives under an immense level of public scrutiny. Still, over the course of his lengthy professional career, Tiger has been able to, for the most part, avoid the limelight. With the exception of the sporting pages and the many commercials from his multi-million dollar endorsement deals, you rarely saw Tiger Woods in the media. In other words, he had his reputation under control.

That all changed, however, on the night of Novemeber 27th when Tiger Woods was involved in a bizarre “car accident.” After dodging questions about the accident, people in the media began to ask questions. Soon, the rumor mill was in full swing as not one but two different women came forward alleging they’d had affairs with Wood. Despite Tiger’s pleas for privacy, however, the media and the world had already made the decision that this was something they wanted to know about, no matter what. Unfortunately, Tiger’s watered down mea culpa, in which he admits “transgressions” against his wife and family, has done little to satiate the public’s interest in the story.

So, what should Tiger have done? Many, including marketing blogger Andy Beal, argued that Woods should have been straight-forward from the beginning. In a blog post for Marketing Pilgrim a few days after the car accident, Beal argues that, “Tiger Woods is not just a person, he’s a billion brand.” As such, he should have approached the situation the same way a company who gets into trouble might have, by providing full and immediate disclosure of the incident. Whether this would have spared Tiger some of his current tribulations is unclear, but it certainly seems obvious that ignoring the media didn’t do him any good.

Now, I don’t want this to seem like a hit piece on Tiger Woods. I don’t believe that Woods is a terrible person like so many others on the web. He has certainly made some mistakes and now he is paying for them. Unfortunately for him, he has to atone for his sins in full view of a gossip-hungry public. What is interesting to me about Tiger’s current reputation problem is what it can touch regular people about privacy.

Thanks to the power of the web, you don’t have to be famous like Tiger Woods to face major public relations problems. In many ways, the internet has made us all pseudo-celebrities. If someone wants to find information about you, it usually only takes 10 to 15 minutes of free time to jump on Google, Facebook, MySpace, or any number of people search websites. If that perosn then decides that they want to spread a nasty rumor about you, all it takes is another 10 to 15 minutes and a few mouse clicks.

As the Wall Street Journal shared in a recent article, “webtribution” can become a huge problem for private individuals and small businesses if not dealt with immediately.  That’s why we recommend monitoring your name online and proactively publishing honest, accruate, and positive content to the web.

Tiger Woods has a whole team of highly-trained public relations experts and lawyers to help him cope with his reputation problems. If you’re not a multi-millionaire athlete, however, that might be beyond your grasp. That doesn’t mean you have to give up control of your identity on the web. If you are having problems protecting your good name online, please send us an e-mail or give us a call today at 1-888-720-9980.

Leave a Reply