Tiger Woods' car crash had nothing on the PR pile-up his life has now become.
In five days he has provided us with a clinic of how not to manage bad news.
1. Stay silent for 72 hours. Let the rumors start.
2. Add fuel by letting it be known you will talk. And then at the last minute don't. Repeat 3 times.
3. Issue a written statement - don't appear in person.
4. Parse the statement so carefully that anyone in this media savvy age can drive a bus through it. As Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post called it during Watergate - "a non-denial denial."
5. Demand privacy.
6. Have lawyers speak for you.
7. Cancel previously scheduled commitments. The more critical you are to them the better.
8. Lean on the law.
9. Wait until more bad news comes out - preferably something that provides incontrovertible proof that you are involved in something you would much rather stay private.
10. Issue a limited statement saying you have committed 'transgressions.'
11. Appeal for privacy.
12. Claim you've only just recognized the power of the media - $1 billion later.
You cannot run from embarrassing news. This is true for businesses as well as for celebrities.
The better way is to follow the David Letterman model and get way out in front of it. Admit it before you have been accused. Then everything else is not a story. Which eliminates the market for gossip and innuendo entirely.
If you screw up, acknowledge it, and apologize. People are human. And as a species we are much more forgiving when honesty and transparency are involved.
We have a harder time with broken trust. Once, perhaps. Twice, no chance.
The best way is to say what you mean and mean what you say.
The holier than thou model, in my experience, is most often practiced by those that are definitively not.