Tiger Woods Cheating and Online Reputation Management

“Tiger Woods apologizes for cheating during his sponsored press conference. Youtube at 11.” If you missed it live via UStream the first time around, don’t fret. You can watch Tiger Woods’ performance on Youtube, on Hulu, on Livestream, on Metacafe, on a myriad of other online video sites. And if that isn’t enough, you can read about it on 7,930,000 blogs. Simply Google “tiger woods press conference” to see the latest search results.

It’s no wonder why Tiger Woods took 80 days before breaking his silence. With the Internet, celebrities need the time to properly plan an online reputation management campaign. Whatever you have to say spreads very fast online.

Ten years ago, we had another high profile cheating scandal. I’m referring to President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. “I did not have sex with that women,” he said in a press conference while wagging his finger at the camera. That was far from the truth, of course. But hey, he only had to deal with 3 channels back then: print, TV, and radio.

Remember those days? Remember the days pre-Google search dominance, pre-Youtube, pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-IM, pre-texting in the US, pre-24×7 instant info?

How did we get by back then? … Not being able to Tweet, leave comments, Digg, Bump, Stumble, hyperlink, Flame, and repost?

I wonder if President Clinton would have delivered a different message if Web 2.0 had been around back then?

We live in an age of social media dependence. While human nature remains the same — we all like to rubberneck and stare at the car crashes of other people — we want acceptance from our tribe as to whether our gawking is justified. With Web 2.0, this is easy to do. The online reputation management teams that top celebrities employ, recognize this fact.

The online reputation management game plan goes something like this:

* What is the story that we can sell?
* What does the brand represent?
* Can we reposition brand?
* Who are the key influencers online?
* Can they be bought off?
* Can we go viral with our new story?
* What is the execution window?

Having worked with celebrities, I can tell you that the right story if properly told and through the right influencers can do wonders in terms of diffusing a hot one.

So Tiger Woods may be all right after all … not despite of Web 2.0 but because of Web 2.0. Watch out world, this is the year of the Tiger.

Copyright © Alex Tran