Not every marriage is perfect and sometimes there is infidelity. Star athletes are by no means an exception – Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez– and now the infamous Tiger Woods. Although infidelity is usually an intimate relationship matter, these public figures have no choice but to sort through their issues in the spotlight. So what’s a PR person to do when a beloved athlete is at the center of a personal scandal?
Many experts believe the first and most crucial step to take is to accept full responsibility for your actions (unless of course, you’re Kobe Bryant and everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law). This step is very important because without it, you can never be truly sorry because it is clear you do not understand nor regret your behavior or its consequences.
Next is to offer a sincere, heartfelt apology. In most cases, the previous step and this one are combined into one effective gesture- such as a press conference or a public statement offered to major news outlets. Tiger’s PR people seemed to under estimate the value of executing this step with grace. The type of dry, emotionless and rehearsed speech he offered to his audience does not win back the public’s affections. Perhaps he should have taken notes from Kobe Bryant’s “I’m Sorry” campaign– which included a tearful personal apology to his wife, Vanessa (who was present at his news conference), as well as a tattoo and a $4 million dollar ring (commonly referred to as “a house on a hand”) for her.
Then, it is an ideal course of action to show how deeply sorry you are for your “indiscretions” or “transgressions”. Attend couple’s counseling, check into rehab, or have your case dismissed- whatever it takes to show the public, as well as your scorned spouse, that you are remorseful.
The final step is to go back to what you do, whether that may be basketball, golf, or baseball, and do it better than everyone else. Help everyone forgive and forget by having an outstanding season, breaking a few records and most importantly, staying out of the doghouse.
Nikki Croney Sophmore PR major