Monday, November 30, 2009

Tiger's image problem

Not for the first time in my life, I am going to go out on a limb here. I disagree with the conventional wisdom about how Tiger should react to the storm surrounding his car accident.

Received public relations wisdom is you get on top of the story. But in this case, I think it only makes a private matter public. The current speculation is that he had an affair. What is he going to say in a statement that is going to change that opinion? What if he had an affair, denies it and later we find out the truth?

There is nothing to be gained by coming out with a statement other than he ran into a fire hydrant, which amounts to minor traffic accident.

It's the silence everyone resents. The media abhors a vacuum and in the absence of real news, everyone writes about the absence of real news.

Golf tours look forward to next season

I wrote this a while back but never posted it because it was off topic. Given Tiger's recent off-course driving experiences, I think it's relevant as I'll explain in a later post.

Let me start from an odd place, the LPGA. Michelle Wie finally won. Grabbed by an on course reporter moments after she tapped in for victory, Wie proceed to give a rambling, incoherent interview about how grateful she was to breakthrough, but the content of conversation didn't matter. The star the LPGA had been waiting and praying for emerged from the darkness, leaving everyone associated with the business end of the tour hoping that she can kick it into super nova and rescue the brand the way her 30 yard bunk shot by the 18 green rolled into gimme range to seal the tournament. The women's tour needs a bonifide star, and it doesn't matter if she, like Wie, is yellow. They need a woman who can win, wear tight clothes and represent the game. The Koreans clearly don't think media accessibility is on the checklist of things required to play on the tour. They maybe right that being out front media wise will not bring them the endorsements Wie and the other American-born stars have snagged without reaching the winner's circle, but that short-sighted view doesn't take into account the tour's long-term health.

At this point, the Koreans look like visiting strip miners, here to plunder American gold without helping to refill the coffers. It should be noted that when Wie won, not a single Asian woman stepped out of the late afternoon shadows that blanketed the 18th green to congratulate the 20-year-old star. Americans Paula Crammer and Morgan Pressel stepped out to spritz her with soda pop, while the Asians stood aside. You wonder what were they thinking.

Tiger Woods's assent to the most liked face in golf proves the golf world is willing to move past the color barrier if the star is telegenic and charismatic. The American women, including the gay ones, have always understand that wearing short skirts and tight tops drives television ratings on the golf channel just like it does for prime time shows on the major networks. Heck, the women's tour employs a make-up consultant to prep the women before they head to the practice tee. The Koreans act as if these attempts to gussy up their image demeans the sports, an admittedly possibly true assertion. Then again, no one complained in the 80's when NBA players wore tight and short shorts, certainly not the women watching the sport.

Anyway, I have digressed about the fairer sex longer than I had meant to. On the men's side of the house, the last three tournament have ended in playoffs. Exciting television even if the names on the leaderboard can only be recognized by hardcore golf devotees. Across the globe, Phil proved that he is not only back but ready to challenge Tiger's dominance. Tiger broke through with his first win on the Australian continent, but all is not perfect in Tigerland. Phil presents a serious challenge to the boy who could not be stopped. Already the Tiger mystique of winning every major when he has held the 54-hole lead was shattered after some Brian May clone didn't back down at the PGA. Now everybody will think the Colossus of the fairways can be knocked aside, banished like an ancient relic. Or maybe just when you have grabbed a tamed tiger by the tail is when you should worry most.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Is PR a commodity?

The other day I saw an electronic marketplace that matched common folks beset by legal problems with lawyers willing to auction off their services. A person who wanted a divorce could use the marketplace to find the cheapest lawyer. Thanks to the marketplace lawyer's services became a commodity, assuming, of course, that all of the lawyers were more or less equally competent.

I confess, if I were on trial for murder, I'd seek out the best lawyer I could afford, not the cheapest, but for wills and uncontested divorces why not go with the cheapest competent provider?

Could there be an electronic PR maketplace? Do we all provide the same basic skills? Is it all about measurement? How can you tell one firm from the next using only a generic RFP and an hour interview? Picking PR firms this way seems like an awful combination of and speed dating, a system that has some successes but mostly ends in failure.

Am I wrong in this? Is PR like murder trials or more like basic wills?
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