Tiger Bomb? Woods' Social Media Q&A Panned By Critics As Soft, Odd
Tiger Woods in advance of this week’s PGA Tour Wells Fargo Championship decided to skip a pre-tournament interview in favor of a video Q&A session in which he answered pre-selected questions from fans, which were, “predictably, as penetrating as a soap bubble,” according to Robert Lusetich of FOXSPORTS.com. Some of Woods’ answers “did provide a hint of insight,” but “mainly, the nearly 15-minute session in which he appeared -- disturbingly, like a hostage -- alone in front of a video camera, was unadulterated fluff.” Two of the 19 questions were "thinly veiled infomercials for his two major sponsors, FUSE, a nutritional drink supplier, and Nike.” Woods’ decision “reeks of paranoia; a clumsy attempt at controlling the message” (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/1). GOLFCHANNEL.com’s Randall Mell writes under the header, “Woods Fields Softball Questions.” The questions were “all 2-footers,” as Woods “made sure to spare himself any tough, double-breaking questions from fans in the video he posted on his website.” That is “not to say the fans didn’t come up with some compelling questions; we’ll never know, because Woods got to pick and choose from a collection we’ll never see.” Mell: “If Edward R. Murrow or Mike Wallace were still around, surely they would have been taking notes on the penetrating quality of the inquiries”(GOLFCHANNEL.com, 5/1). GOLFWEEK’s Jeff Rude noted the questions Woods picked to answer “weren’t so much of the softball variety,” as they were “more like volleyball.” Woods “often takes the path of least resistance in news conferences,” but this was “more like no resistance” (GOLFWEEK.com, 4/30).
RIDDLE ME THIS: In Orlando, Jeff Shain notes Woods in the video was shown "relaxing on a couch as he responded” to the questions. The inquiries “ran the gamut, from asking Woods for his most memorable putt (last at the 1997 Masters) to what he drinks on the course between shots (electrolytes) to the ‘coolest trophy’ among the four majors (British Open)” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/1). YAHOO SPORTS’ Eric Adelson writes there were “several benign queries about golf,” and Woods “gave no insight into what was so wrong with his game at the Masters or how much his personal life has changed since he ran over a fire hydrant in 2009.” The video was “odd to say the least.” It “started abruptly, jumped between questions awkwardly -- it seemed to restart at the 11-minute mark -- and ended strangely, with an answer about the U.S. Open course and then fade to black.” It was “vintage Tiger in the post-Elin era: forced, disjointed and maddeningly bland” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/1). YAHOO SPORTS’ Jonathan Wall wrote the video Q&A “could get better going forward.” However, based on the “lack of video quality (what's with cutting the video off at the end without a sign-off?) and the decision to have Woods read the questions and answers, it's safe to say Team Tiger's new social media wrinkle needs some serious work.” Wall wrote, “I know Woods has spent countless hours in front of the camera, but after reading every question off a cheat sheet, it appeared as if he kept looking back down at the piece of paper, almost like he had pre-written answers on there as well. If that's the case, then ... wow.” Wall wrote the manner in which Woods answered the questions “was, well, boring” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/30).
NOT A GOOD PR MOVE: Author John Feinstein said of the video, "It's another bad public relations move by the people who are in charge of Tiger Woods’ public relations." Feinstein: "More and more athletes are communicating through Twitter and websites controlling their message, but it's not smart for Tiger Woods to do this. People will see this as another way of Tiger Woods ducking the media, and this is a guy who doesn't answer questions most of the time anyway. So can he get away with it? Yes. Is it smart? No.” Golf Channel's Lara Baldesarra said, “Tiger's team said this was a way for Tiger to boost his interaction with his fans, but should his focus be on more connecting with his fans or with the media?” Golf Channel's John Hawkins: “I don't understand why he can't do both. Why can't he have his 15-minute footsy with his Twitter followers and still do the press conference? I've said it a hundred times, Tiger doesn't just move the needle, he is the needle. He knows that. He's always been averse to people capitalizing on his presence and it's unfortunate that he's never really gotten over that. He could do both of these things” (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 4/30). Golf Channel’s Erik Kuselias said, “When you accept sponsor money, you accept being a public figure. You accept the $90 million you've made for most years recently and you accept the perks of fame that you have cashed in on … (but) there is an obligation side to that, too. For someone to say there is no obligation side to that is naive and stupid. ... It's part of the business that you've chosen. It just seems to me like this is not the smartest thing that Tiger could do long-term” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 5/1).