Tiger Woods PR campaign off to shaky start
The early reviews are in, and they're not terribly kind.
But what do you expect when Tiger Woods finally bares his soul and we find out he doesn't seem to have one?
The campaign to deliver the world a new, improved Tiger began this week just as all those nasty reminders of what happened a year ago in Florida were about to appear. His public rehabilitation is now officially under way, surely to be followed at some point by some cutesy Nike ads that will enlighten us even further.
Op-ed piece in Newsweek. Radio interview on ESPN. Even a couple of tweets.
And not a clue that Woods even begins to get it at all.
The most miserable year he could ever imagine is about over. He should be shouting in joy that he's survived, even if his golf career may be ruined forever.
Instead he's trying to sell himself to the world in the same calculating way he once sold Nike's golf equipment.
Except this time it won't work.
''People perceive him to be a complete fraud,'' said Ronn Torossian, president of 5W Public Relations in New York. ''Making a mistake in your personal life is one thing, but being seen as a complete insincere and fraudulent person is quite another.''
Woods' agent called the public relations campaign a positive step for his client, saying Woods was making an effort to do something different. But he's really doing much the same thing he's always done, presumably because the bills must be paid for his new Florida bachelor's mansion.
In his first try months ago to make himself more palatable to fans disgusted by his sexual appetite, Woods gave two 5-minute television interviews that revealed absolutely nothing. This time he went across various media platforms to reveal absolutely nothing.
Want to know what happened that night in Florida? Don't bother listening to the tape of his interview on ''Mike & Mike in the Morning,'' where the question was timidly posed.
''Unfortunately I've talked about Thanksgiving for the past year so I think I've exhausted that subject,'' Woods said.
Actually, Woods has said almost nothing about Thanksgiving night a year ago when his world unraveled in ways few could have ever imagined. That's certainly his right, but don't expect to sell someone a new watch if the playbook for your return to glory is written by some public relations whiz at his agent's office.
So what did we learn from Woods in his first attempt to sell himself to us as a new man? Well, he loves his children, is sorry he hurt people close to him, wants to be a good golfer once again, and thinks his fans are just awesome.
Oh, and he's the founder of a foundation that is helping America's youth. He's had a part in educating 10 million youngsters, if you believe some wildly inflated numbers.
The most important message delivered from the playbook, though, was that he's a much better person than ever before.
''If that (the accident) didn't happen I don't think I'd be as blessed or as balanced as I am now,'' Woods said.
Please. Save it for the Nike ad.
The problem isn't just that Woods is perceived as an aloof phony interested only in padding his still hefty bank account. He's been exposed for all to see, and people have made their judgments.
The real problem is that he's not remotely interesting unless he's winning golf tournaments. And until he does that again, no media blitz is going to make him palatable to the public again.
Unfortunately for Woods, his game is about as messed up as his reputation.
He's got a swing he can't trust and a short game that's suddenly not so magical. He went all year without winning for the first time ever, and the same players who once cowered before him are now more likely to be making jokes about him.
''The single worst thing that ever could happen to Tiger Woods may be happening,'' said Michael Kempner, president of MWW Group public relations in East Rutherford, N.J. ''He has gone from being immortal to being extraordinarily mortal.''
Judging from his new public relations campaign, Woods and his advisers apparently haven't figured that out yet. They're still playing by the old ground rules, believing that with some careful packaging they can make Woods what he once was again.
But while it's true that sports fans can be incredibly forgiving, perhaps it's time Woods gets some new advice.
Stop writing articles. Give up on the tweets. Blow off the radio shows.
And start practicing your putting.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org