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Why Tiger Woods' media strategy isn't wrong, even after admitting "trangressions"



(UPDATE: Now that Woods legal issues are gone and disclosures about his infidelities are mounting, the golf legend has published a statement on his Web site admitting "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart."

Click here to read the whole statement, in which Woods says his lack of public comment comes from "an important and deep principle" seeking a "simple, human measure of privacy."

Now that he's disclosed this, Woods' quest for that privacy is probably exploded forever.)

I may be the only media critic in the country wondering if Tiger Woods is handling the media just right.

In the days since his mysterious early morning car crash near his Orlando home, public relations professionals across the country criticized the golf star for his vague public statement on the accident, his refusal to speak publicly on it all and his decision not to talk with police investigating the incident.

But following the announcement that police have decided to give Woods a traffic citation and end their investigation, it may be the critics who get left in the cold.

"When Tiger Woods let 13 hours lapse after Friday's early-morning accident without issuing an explanation, he ceded control of his story not only to legitimate news outlets, but also to celebrity gossip mongers on the hunt for a tale –- made up or otherwise -– of adultery and mayhem," wrote Kevin Sullivan, a former communications director under George W. Bush who advised Woods to "tell it first, tell it yourself and tell it all."

Tigerwoods-wife2 But Sullivan overlooked some important points. Woods wasn't some politician trying to dodge bad publicity; he is a world famous athlete trying to keep his wife from facing domestic violence charges, amid allegations the crash was caused by a fight between the two.

Once early reports said Woods' wife hit his car with a golf club while he was driving away -- days after the National Enquirer reported the golfer had an affair -- the gossip sheets were set to gorge on the story, regardless of his actions.

But Woods' team also moved to systematically handle all aspects of this story which have sparked mainstream media interest, canceling his public events for the year, getting statements of support from some sponsors and ensuring the legal end of this incident was resolved with a traffic ticket. Even an attorney for his neighbor held a press conference saying Woods' injuries seemed caused by the accident.

Even as the tabloids uncover new allegations of infidelity, the non-gossipy elements of Woods' problems have been dealt with swiftly. Public backlash over the media coverage and the next big story should do the rest, ensuring that the rest of this saga remains mostly in the world of TMZ and Us Weekly -- which is about the best he could have hoped for, anyway.

If the allegations about what actually happened are true, a public mea culpa would have just supercharged the story and perhaps encouraged police to do more.

So maybe this was the best outcome possible for all his needs.

Speaking of Woods coverage backlash, check out the Daily Show's take on it all below:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tiger Woods Newzak
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[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:03pm]


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