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How to Handle a Media Crisis

Did Tiger Woods crash his credibility?

By
Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read

Rule #2: Be honest. The next rule of crisis management is to be honest.  Don’t sugarcoat the issues; always tell the truth. Say as much as you can. You don’t necessarily have to tell everything at once. But don’t tell half-truths or lies.  If there’s damaging information, be sure it comes directly from you, so you can present your side of the story. David Letterman handled his crisis correctly by directly stating he had affairs with woman staffers. How about Tiger Woods? On his website he admits to “transgressions.” To me, that counts as sugarcoating and doesn’t stop the speculation or directly address the rumors.

Rule #3: Be responsible. Finally, it’s important to be concerned and show concern. Acknowledge uncertainty.  Acknowledge misbehaviors. Apologize for errors. If you were wrong, say you were wrong. If you or your company caused injury, apologize sincerely. This is the time to be human, not professional. In this regard, Tiger Woods was on target. He wrote, “I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology.” 

Summary: How to Handle a Media Crisis

When you break the news first, when you’re honest, and when you take responsibility, there is no story. You take the wind out of the sails of speculation and rumor. There is no story. Had Tiger Woods closely followed these rules of crisis management, perhaps it wouldn’t have been the top story on CNN. 

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Resources
The Public Speaker’s Guide To Ace Your Interview: 6 Steps To Get The Job You Want
The Tylenol Crisis: How Effective Public Relations Save Johnson & Johnson
Crisis Communication: A Very Quick Introduction

Woman at Press Conference image courtesy of Shutterstock

Pages

About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.