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Tiger Woods: Apology

FILE - This Nov. 10, 2009, file photo shows Tiger Woods during a news conference before the Australian Masters golf tournament at Kingston Heath Golf Club, in Melbourne, Australia. Tiger Woods will speak to the media Friday, Feb. 19, 2010, from the clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass, headquarters of the PGA Tour in Florida, for the first time since revelations about his infidelity, his agent says. ( AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill, File)
FILE - This Nov. 10, 2009, file photo shows Tiger Woods during a news conference before the Australian Masters golf tournament at Kingston Heath Golf Club, in Melbourne, Australia. Tiger Woods will speak to the media Friday, Feb. 19, 2010, from the clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass, headquarters of the PGA Tour in Florida, for the first time since revelations about his infidelity, his agent says. ( AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill, File) (Andrew Brownbill - AP)

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Dan Leinweber
Public Relations Expert
Thursday, February 18, 2010; 1:00 PM

Tiger Woods Apology: The Countdown

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For Friday updates on Tiger Woods's apology:

The Tiger Woods's apology live-blo

The League: Why do apologies matter?

Video: Tiger Woods Apology: The Shame Hall of Fame

Send in questions about Tiger Woods's statement to Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins and Slate sports editor Josh Levin.

Send in questions about Tiger Woods's statement to Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins and Slate sports editor Josh Levin. Send in questions about Tiger Woods's statement to Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins and Slate sports editor Josh Levin. Live chat: Tiger Woods press conference: What did you think?

More on Tiger Woods's apology from the Post's Feb. 18 coverage:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to speak publicly Friday for the first time since his car accident in November, beginning what his agent Mark Steinberg, according to ESPN, called "the process of making amends" for the sex scandal that sent him into hiding for three months.

What we can expect to hear from the world's greatest golfer? What should he be saying?

Public relations expert Dan Leinweber was online Thursday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss Tiger Woods and how he might address the scandal.

Leinweber is president of Leinweber Associates, a public relations firm which represents national news clients and companies.

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Dan Leinweber: Hi, everyone. I will chat with you about tomorrow's Tiger Woods press conference and discuss not only what we can expect to hear from the world's greatest golfer, but also what he should be telling us. I will answer your questions on Tiger's specific situation and how public figures in general should address similar circumstances.

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Long Island, N.Y.: Dan, why didn't Tiger just post a video on his Web site with his statement? By doing the control freak thing, he comes off as somebody playing the media. I think this just invites many more "Emperor Has No Clothes" columns about his cursing, club slamming, ignoring fans, caddie tantrums. What's he going to do...Freeze out already frozen out reporters?

Dan Leinweber: You are indeed correct--"his" press conference is about being in control. However, this should not be a one-way dialogue--the public won't buy it and it won't end continued speculation. Tiger should not just say how hard it is for him and his family, but stand up and answer the tough questions!

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New York, N.Y.: Dan, Pete Rose admitted betting on baseball the same week that the Hall of Fame vote was announced. Tiger makes his announcement during the Accenture tournament. Isn't it bad form to upstage your peers even to stick your finger in the eye of an antagonist?

Dan Leinweber: Absolutely. Tiger's timing is awful. He is staging his "show" in the middle of a golf tournament. It's a slap in the face of Accenture, the tournament sponsor, and his former sponsor. Ernie Els called him "selfish" for doing this.

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Alexandria, Va.: Given what we've heard about the setting, it appears to me that he will say little about anything. I expect a vague apology to his family and friends. And a statement that he will make no more comments about this issue.

Dan Leinweber: Obviously, no one except Tiger and his team knows what he will say tomorrow. However, you are probably correct that he will be as brief as possible.

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Philadelpha, Pa.: If Woods is attempting to rehabilitate his reputation, doesn't making a public statement without then also taking questions from the media afterward do more harm than good?

Dan Leinweber: Nope. Taking questions from the media will do more good than harm. If Tiger doesn't answer questions tomorrow, speculation will continue that will be grist for the tabloids and entertainment programs. Tiger should learn from Alex Rodriguez, the Yankee third baseman. Last spring, A-Rod spent one-hour before dozens of journalists and answered their questions about his use of steroids. By coming forward and being open and honest, that issue is no longer discussed.

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Thornton, Colo.: Dan -- He's got to come clean, doesn't he? Admit the addiction, and the hurt to his family and himself, and show genuine remorse. If not, this is good fodder for another Saturday Night Live skit, don't you think?

Dan Leinweber: I agree with you. Again, look at what A-Rod did last year through his admission. His drug situation, which had been all over the media for years, has been put to rest.

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New York, N.Y.: As I understand it, you are not representing Tiger, just offering you "expert" opinion on the direction of the upcoming press conference?

Dan Leinweber: That's right. I am NOT representing Tiger. I was asked by The Washington Post to offer some opinion on this based on my firm's experience.

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Rose Island, R.I.: If he comes back he won't have the fans cheering him on like he used to. He may have people yelling stuff like: "Hey Tiger; who'd ya do last night?" whilst he's trying to make a putt. His he prepared for that?

Dan Leinweber: Americans tend to have short memories and they may indeed be cheering for him just like they did in the past. However, I don't think that will happen in his case unless he is more open and honest with his fans.

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Oakton, Va.: As a fan, I would like Tiger to be himself. I notice that Tiger did not respond to Els' comments, but Tiger's agent did. No offense, but Tiger should ditch the P.R. guys and agents and tell us what he actually thinks. I would love for Tiger to respond to Els with something like "Who said that, Els? Is he still on the tour?" Just to show us he's human.

Dan Leinweber: You've hit the nail on the head. Tiger should be himself and say what he thinks. Of course, he must apologize to his wife, family, fans, sponsors, fellow tour pros, the PGA and show he is sorry for what happened.

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Arlington, Va.: Obviously this approach is part of the whole control freak thing. And while his acceptance by the public may well be conditioned on how he approaches it, I think he will choose this controlled approach because it is, I believe, part of what makes him a great golf champion. No one could perform as he had without a belief in himself that is other-worldly and dominate others who see in him no weakness.

Any real apology opens him up to weakness. And I do believe he cares less about his family and how he is perceived than he cares about his golf.

Dan Leinweber: Your comment is most likely tomorrow's press conference scenario. However, I don't believe that an apology opens him up to weakness. People appreciate any one--a champion or not--who is honest.

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Fairfax, Va.: Why is he doing this and not just putting a posting on his Web site? Does he think it will be better if he appears live on TV? Will it be, especially if he doesn't answer any questions? Has he thought this through? Is he using a PR firm like yours?

Dan Leinweber: A personal appearance on live television is better than a posting on a web site. However, in this case, without answering any questions, the difference is marginal. Has he thought this through? After three months, I'm sure he has and his decision is based on being in total control of his messages.

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: Isn't Tiger's announcement aimed chiefly at men? Don't you think that, on average, women view his transgressions more seriously than men (not only the indignity but also the risk of contracting STDs due to a husband's unprotected activities)?

Dan Leinweber: That's a great question. I would imagine that if a poll was taken, women would view Tiger's transgressions more seriously than men for the reasons you state, among others.

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Paper Tiger: It doesn't matter what Woods says. There are those that support him, those who will say, Hey, he's sorry and let get on with his life, and those, like me, who were so appalled that he -- and his management team -- were able to exploit and manipulate an image that never existed that I will always see him now as a rather awful person. I care nothing about his talent anymore, and will watch in horror the circus that surrounds him. Am I alone in this? You ask.

Dan Leinweber: There are many people who completely agree with you about Tiger and, regardless of what he says tomorrow or anytime, will care nothing about him anymore. It's somewhat similar to the Pete Rose situation--his was one of the best to play baseball, but because of his gambling on the sport, his talent was overshadowed.

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And I do believe he cares less about his family and how he is perceived than he cares about his golf.: I disagree. Well, I agree that he cares less about his family. But not about how he is perceived. That's what got him into this mess in the first place, the careful building of a fake public life and personality that included getting married to someone he does not love as a marketing tool. He must care deeply about how he is perceived to do all that. That's my impression, anyway.

Dan Leinweber: If he cares about how he is perceived, they he MUST have a more interactive dialogue with his fans and the press.

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washingtonpost.com: There are reports of Tiger Woods statement being leaked. Radio goof? 'Leaked' transcript of Tiger Woods apology is 'absolutely false,' says Team Tiger (New York Daily News, Feb. 18)

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New York, N.Y.: Personally, I think Tiger's publicity team is getting ahead of themselves...there's been too short a time span between incident to contrition. With his home life stability, and Elin's forgiveness, still in question, how can anyone make a sincere, rational statement. What advice would you give Tiger, given the opportunity?

Dan Leinweber: I disagree. Tiger and his team has already waited three months since the night of the Escalade auto accident. He should have come out shortly after that with at least some statement. As time went on, of course, other things were reported that he could have addressed.

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Denver, Colo.: What do you think is the sudden catalyst for this appearance? Given the structured nature of the press conference it appears as though Tiger is doing this against his will. Do you think the PGA/sponsors are urging him to put himself out there?

Dan Leinweber: No one will know if Tiger is appearing tomorrow "against his will." From what I've read about him, he is pretty strong willed and probably wants to appear publicly if for no other reason than he want to get back on the golf course. After all, the Masters is coming soon!

By the way, I've just learned that there are reported leaks about his comments tomorrow. One report alleges that he will say that he and his long-suffering wife Elin Nordegren have agreed to "live apart" - and that he will return to the links this April and play in the Masters Tournament. However, the Tiger Woods Foundation has denied this report saying it is "absolutely false."

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Tiger and the golf media: Dan, I think this decision by Tiger reflects the cozy relationship he has with a lot of members of the golf media, especially the networks. They are notoriously hesitant to criticize players for poor play, much less their private lives. I think Tiger's used to that environment and thinks he can get away with a statement without taking questions.

By the way, it's entirely different overseas, especially in Britain, where the tabloids can be brutal. It makes me wonder if Tiger will play in the British Open this year.

Dan Leinweber: You are right. Tiger has a very cozy relationship with the media, but I don't think this time he can "get away" with a statement without taking questions. Do you remember when it was first reported that OJ Simpson was arrested for allegedly killing his wife and Ronald Goldman? Bob Costas kept saying this is not true....how could they report that, etc. Well, I like Bob Costas, but we all know his personal relationship with OJ clouded his reporting.

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Detroit, Mich.: If Tiger had done this months ago, he could easily have gotten back to the business of golf and as Phil Knight put it, this would be a distant blip in no time. I sincerely hope he has the good sense to get a divorce, live free while being a good father, and make no apologies for indulging his proclivities between the sheets while winning golf tournaments. Everything else is just family values hypocrisy that the media seems obligated to pay lip service to.

Dan Leinweber: Phil Knight is a smart man. I couldn't agree more!

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If he cares about how he is perceived, then he MUST have a more interactive dialogue with his fans and the press...: But you're expecting someone who is so concerned with control that he marketed to us a personality that not only does not exist but is completely different from reality, you're expecting someone like that to "get" it. I don't think he knows how to be real. Maybe he doesn't even really know who he is.

Dan Leinweber: People change. Again, look at Alex Rodriguez. Look at Kobe Bryant.

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Fellow PR professional: Dan, I also work in the PR industry and have done my share of media and crisis counseling. Ironically enough, what the public doesn't understand is that most PR professionals, when dealing with a client in trouble, encourage them to be as truthful and as open as they can be. Would you not agree with that? And isn't Tiger likely to fail to clear this bar with what he's going to do tomorrow?

Dan Leinweber: Yes, indeed, as a fellow PR practitioner, I agree that we certainly encourage clients to be truthful and open. I hope Tiger subscribes to this counsel tomorrow also.

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Dan Leinweber: Many thanks you for your questions.

In closing, I'd like to reiterate that it's important for Tiger to tell the truth. It's too bad he won't take reporters questions tomorrow.

Perhaps he'll surprise us, however, and agree to a "script change."

I'll tune in and I'm sure all of you will also!

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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