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Tiger Woods Silence a Crisis in the Making

Tellem PR Crisis Scale gives Woods crisis a 2 out of 5

Using its proprietary Tellem PR Crisis Scale, Tellem Worldwide, Inc. gives Tiger Woods a 2 out of 5 for poor response time and potential damage to the brand.  Every hour that passes without a clear statement of what happened increases damage to his image thanks to speculation, rumors and innuendo.  The initial statement posted on his Web site does not make any sort of apology to his fans or address their concerns.

“Visions of Kobe Bryant and Michael Phelps come to mind when a famous athlete like Tiger Woods gets in hot water.  Woods’ way of addressing the problem in his statement is just “me, me and more me,” says Susan Tellem, partner and head of the company’s crisis management team. “I am sure that the hours of silence that followed the accident were on the advice of his handlers and attorneys.  They always hope and pray that silence will make something bad go away.  Well it doesn’t – it just makes it worse.”

Tellem Worldwide, an agency with years of experience in assisting companies prepare for and/or manage crises, launched its proprietary “PR Crisis Scale” in 2004 as a tool companies and the media can use to help grasp the depth and ramifications of negative publicity as it occurs and learn the steps required to remedy it.

Susan Tellem, president & CEO of Tellem Worldwide and crisis expert, says her 30 years in public relations, as well as the increasing ability of reporters, blogs and social media to spread a negative story worldwide in seconds, spawned the idea of creating a PR Crisis Scale. Patterned after the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, the Tellem PR Crisis Scale ranks the public relations aspects of a crisis from 1 to 5, with 5 being the greatest, based on its severity.

Like a hurricane, a PR crisis can increase or decrease in intensity based on subsequent developments. Some examples of crises and their rankings include:

5 -Exxon Oil Spill/ New York Ferry (typically death and/or destruction
4 -American Beef Industry/Tenet hospital sale/Martha Stewart (millions of dollars at stake and reputation in danger of tremendous loss of credibility)
2 -Janet Jackson Super Bowl malfunction/Crocodile Hunter and his baby/Kobe Bryant case (big corporate apologies and/or damage to the brand)
1 -Britney-Madonna kiss/Winona Ryder theft (most celebrity antics unless they involve damage to the brand)

With divisions in healthcare, food, entertainment and energy, Tellem Worldwide has expertise in broad range of PR crises, from celebrity scandal and healthcare fraud to product liability and wrongful death. The Tellem staff has been called in to act as experts for both law firms and media, including Entertainment Tonight, Geraldo and C-SPAN.

“When the media needs a professional opinion or a defendant’s lawyer wants to protect the image of a client, our PR Crisis Scale helps illustrate the severity of a crisis in the news and its potential fallout,” says Tellem. “With widespread and watchful media on alert, elected officials, celebrities and corporate management can find themselves being tried in the court of public opinion overnight.”

Susan Tellem heads the crisis team along with John Tellem, who leads the agency’s Entertainment Practice. For more information, visit http://www.tellem.com, call 310-313-3444 or email stellem at tellem dot com. Follow Tellem Worldwide on Twitter: @tellem

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