Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category
I may be a couple of days late with this post, but I have a good excuse. One I’m not on deadline and two there were way too many events going on in the world the past two days for me to even care about what Tiger Woods has to say about his shenanigans the last four months.
It also took me more than a day to digest Tiger Woods’ first two media interviews with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi and The Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman. Neither will be winning a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism in the future. Both reporters (if you want to call them that) showed a lot of restraint and avoided asking the tough questions. In fact, it is obvious Kelly is the queen of Tiger Woods’ media groupie. Still, you can’t solely place the blame on them though. With only five minutes allotted per interview, there’s no way any journalist could have been able to ask the hard questions, and if they did, Tiger would have needed more than five minutes to respond. Let’s put it this way. Tiger’s caddy, Steve Williams, could have stood in for him and we wouldn’t have known the difference.
So what was this exclusive 5-minute press junket about? It was about one thing. PUBLICITY. Since Tiger’s PR has been consistently duffing lately, I’m guessing Ari Fleischer had something to do with this before he resigned his services from the Tiger camp.
It was a clever PR move really. Tiger needed to get in front of the corporations/brands that have dropped him like a two-foot putt to woo them back as well as be seen by other brands that are seeking an endorser. There were two key messages he delivered during the interviews and he pounded these repeatedly in five minutes:
1) Tiger’s personal life is back in order
2) Tiger’s ready to play golf.
Oh there was a third, Buddhism is the answer to a chaotic life…and with that Tiger Woods exits (still wearing his “TW” logo cap and Nike apparel).
P.S. Jim Furyk did win his first golf tournament in two and a half years. Unfortunately, it ended up as a post-script on media outlets.
The Tiger Woods post-Thanksgiving saga and potential scandal depending on when the world’s most famous athlete decides to speak up continues to boggle the mind. New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey’s writes ”we are now witnessing his hooking and slicing his image straight into the rough, into the trees, into the drink.” I agree.
I can’t say how much damage his silence and all the speculation thereafter will affect his selling power, but it personally shows me as a fan of Tiger Woods since his junior golf days, another side to his personality. It looks to me as arrogance. Not putting out a statement that would appease the minds of millions of his fans is dumbfounding or simply, dumb. The statement on Tiger Woods’ web site just begs for more speculation and whomever advised him to put it out should meet the same fate as Tiger’s former caddy “Fluff.”
Tiger calls the malicious rumors “irresponsible.” What is irresponsible is the fact that there is no explanation from him and it’s been more than 48 hours since the bewildering car accident. His silence is now bigger news than the actual event that caused him to be in the news. The speculations are wide-ranging from a marriage spat to rushing to a Black Friday sale though I personally think it was to test the airbags of his Escalade. (GM/Cadillac–It failed miserably since the airbags apparently didn’t deploy. Judging by the neighbor’s 911 call, it should have deployed.)
As a PR professional, I always knew his perfect image was made up, but call me naive, I bought into it. For many years since the notorious GQ interview he did many years ago, Tiger hasn’t had a hiccup that would cost him a cent from his billion dollar image. He made all the right moves from media interviews to the charitable causes that he aligns himself with to his personal involvement with the Tiger Woods Foundation. He managed his public image exactly the same way he managed his golf game — methodical. Too bad the PR machine that built him up to epic proportions stalled this weekend.
There was one thing absolutely accurate in Tiger’s statement. He’s “only human” and “not perfect.” I’m still shocked by this admission.
This is not a joke so there’s no punchline although Pitch Letter and Golf Swing did go to a bar and made fun of tyrannical bosses, demanding clients, snotty reporters and Charles Barkley’s golf swing.
No one else in the world would take on the task of comparing pitch letter writing with the golf swing except your friendly neighborhood, prdude. It may appear as though I’ve been on the green smoking the grass around me, but you’ll see there are similarities to writing a solid pitch letter and developing a sound golf swing (once you inhale all that smoke). So here’s my attempt at breaking them down as simply as possible (keeping posts to under 655 words since many of you suffer from undiagnosed ADD):
The Address — In golf, that would be how a golfer sets up as he prepares to hit the golf ball. A solid foundation is needed to get the most of out of the swing. The set-up dictates the rest of the golf swing. In writing a pitch letter, a solid set-up is also critical as this will dictate the flow of the entire pitch. We all know that addressing the pitch letter to the correct reporter is practically half the battle.
The Backswing — In golf, you better make sure you take the club back smoothly and in a consistent line. This helps eliminate mis-hits (hyphen added to avoid any mispronunciations by non-golfers) when striking the ball on the downswing. Hitting your target will be dependent on it. In a pitch letter, this would be the lead/opening paragraph, which better be smooth and consistent, to ensure no misperceptions is derived by the reporter.
The Downswing — In golf, this is the part where experience takes over since the downswing action almost becomes second-nature to the skilled golfer. Once you reach the top of your backswing, gravity pretty much takes care of the downswing, so controlling it to ensure consistency takes a lot of practice. In a pitch letter, this would be the essence of your pitch. Experienced PR pros have an easier time spotting the newsworthy nuggets they want to convey on their pitch. It’s a skill that is developed through practice although, just like in golf, there are some inexperienced individuals who seem to have been born with this ability.
The Follow-Through — Once the golf club strikes the ball, you might think it’s pretty much over, but that’s not the case. The sequence of events immediately after contact is extremely important. The better players will keep the same line after hitting the ball and maintain their follow-through eyeing their golf ball as it flies toward its intended target. In a pitch letter, this would be maintaining contact with your target even after you hit that “Send” button. If you maintain your follow-through with a well-crafted pitch, you have a higher percentage of making a solid impact with your intended media target.
The Punchline — So I lied. Here’s the punchline: there is no perfect swing and there is no perfect pitch letter. Even Tiger Woods, whose golf swing is near flawless, has ended up out of bounds, in the rough, even beaned a lucky spectator on the head. As with the so-called perfect pitch letter, it may seem flawless, but it could still end up in the trash. One thing to remember is to keep the pitch letter and the golf swing as simple and consistent as possible.
And all we can do, as PR pros (and golfers), is to keep on practicing to lessen the stray shots. The only thing I guarantee is if this post doesn’t help your pitching skills, it will surely help your golf swing. Golf and PR may be frustrating, but when you hit that perfect shot, and it does happen folks, it makes everything worthwhile.
A discussion about the pitch letter, golf swing, or whether you think I’ve smoked too much golf course weed, is encouraged.