Tiger, Ben and Jerry’s create their own crises; Doh

Some bright soul — I don’t think it was Homer Simpson — once said that sports is a microcosm of society. Given ESPN’s gargantuan footprint the B-side may be more prominent these days than the A-side of that saying.

Two crisis management lessons emerged from the flipside this week, driven by two of the biggest names in sports — Tiger Woods and Jeremy Lin [with help from ice-cream makers Ben & Jerry].

Tiger apparently has either had no media training or hasn’t listened to what coaching he did receive since he ran his car into a curb outside his former Orlando home a couple of Thanksgivings ago. Along with the fluids leaking from the undercarriage his reputation oozed away too. He handled it poorly then and he handled something related badly this week as well.


There are enough crises in his life — starting with his recalcitrant putter — that he didn’t  need to self-generate more. Lead with your head, not your chin.

Easy solution: When asked about your former swing coach’s new tell-all book, don’t bristle, don’t stare, don’t go dark, don’t let steam escape from your ears. Tell the reporter you will happily detail for her after the news conference what is wrong in the book.

In the meantime, say something like “I’m sure anyone who has trusted a friend who turns around and writes a book purported to be about you would feel bad about it, as I do.” Next question?

Ben & Jerry’s‘ marketers thought they had a winner by offering a frozen yogurt flavor for the white-hot New York Knicks guard — called ‘Taste the Lin-Sanity.’

Unfortunately, the ingredients genies didn’t talk to the public relations pros and the former included fortune cookies as part of the Lin flavor. That resulted in smackdowns by Sports Illustrated and dozens of other media. Ben & Jerry’s outlet in Cambridge, MA — close to a university you may have heard of where Lin played college basketball — formally apologized, as it watched its great idea melt into a pool of goo under the hot lights of a crisis.


The Asian Journalists Association even offered a “style guide” for reporters writing about Lin so they — like the fired ESPN staffers who wrote and broadcast an offensive headline — would better understand Asian and Chinese culture. Fortune cookies? Are you kidding me?!

When it comes to a crisis, don’t self-generate.


About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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