Can Tiger Come Back?

By: Susan Finco, President / Owner, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Can Tiger Woods come back after the scandal? Will he ever be marketable again? What about damage to his brand? Every one of us at L&F have been asked these question a number of times during the past month. Because of our extensive work in reputation and crisis management, they’re very good questions.

But, there are no simple answers. A lot will depend on what happens next. Generally, over time, the public has been willing to forgive (and to some extent forget) public figures who “do wrong.” The problem in Tiger’s case is that he dug in hard when things started to unfold. He asked, actually demanded, that the media and the public give him and his family privacy. He totally underestimated today’s media culture, not to mention public interest. His story just didn’t add up, so none of us at L&F were surprised when the original story started to unravel and seemingly got worse literally every day.

What’s amazing to all of us at L&F is that he was able to live a double life for so long. We’ve all heard the saying “nothing good happens after midnight.” Change that to: “Nothing good happens after midnight when you’re a married superstar and you’re out partying at Las Vegas night clubs with porn stars.” It’s the ultimate “What was he thinking?!”

So, where does he go from here? He’s going to have to live through the ugliness for a while. This will dog him for a long, long time. He has to man up and take the criticism; working to prove he’s worthy of a positive superstar status again. Getting back on the golf course – and winning – will certainly help. If his wife doesn’t divorce him, he needs to be squeaky clean and repentant; keeping a very low profile. Even if he gets divorced, he needs to clean up his act. Did he really think the type of women he was having affairs with weren’t out for something more than sex? Stop texting, emailing and leaving voice mail for women you don’t really know, or be prepared for TMZ to be running a series of stories on your exchanges.

Yes, with time, it is possible for Tiger to gain back his reputation, but it will never be quite the same. There won’t be an asterisk in the records book, but in many people’s minds there will always be an asterisk when they hear his name. What are your thoughts?