Baseless Accusations and Reputation Woes in the PGA

Sections of this topic

    Unfounded complaints reflect poorly on golf pro

    One major rule of PR — If you’re going to make public accusations, then you sure as heck better be able to back them up.

    Pro golfer Sergio Garcia learned this lesson the hard way when he complained to the media that Tiger Woods had caused him to miss a shot during this past weekend’s Player’s Championship tournament.

    Despite Garcia’s claims, replays showed he hadn’t even begun his swing at the time of the “interruption,” and he was quickly labeled a needless whiner and described as such repeatedly across both traditional and social media channels.

    In this week’s Monday Morning Media Minute, Jerry Brown offered his take on the situation:

    Taking his complaint to the media makes him sound like a whiner — something he has a history of doing.

    It was no surprise his complaint became the story of the day. The media buzz would have been deafening if the two golfers had ended up paired together for the final round.

    That didn’t happen. But they were tied for the lead with just two holes remaining and a playoff pitting them head-to-head against one another was a real possibility. That would have churned up the buzz machine once again.

    Garcia’s collapse on Sunday made his Saturday whine, legitimate or not, all the more embarrassing.

    The lesson for the rest of us? Just because you think you’ve been wronged doesn’t mean the story will play out that way if you complain in public.

    No matter how much you think you’re in the right, there is no guarantee anyone else will see it that way. If you really must call someone out, be it an individual or organization, you better have done your homework and put together an airtight argument, or you may find yourself doing a bit of crisis management for your own reputation’s sake.

    The reality is that, in most cases, it’s best to not complain about the actions of others at all, instead focusing on what you control; your own efforts towards making the situation more favorable.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]