An Unforgettable Scandal

By: Meredith Erikson


My crisis communications class has exemplified the adrenaline rush of what it might feel like to be a crisis communications expert. The more I learn from the class, the more I can’t help but to analyze the constant controversy that happens every day in the media. In Jane Jordan-Meier’s book, “The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management,” she identifies the four stages of a crisis situation and explains how to determine which events fall under which stage. I practiced identifying those steps using the infamous Tiger Woods scandal and wanted to share how I did so.

Stage one is called the fact-finding stage. “The traditional mainstream media are looking to confirm the basic details of that show-stopping event” (Meier 47). This is when everyone looks to find the details of the event. The mainstream media typically uses social media to find out more about what happened. In the case of Tiger Woods, we would look for who was involved, how it started, and whether or not this was going to be a big story. The drama unfolded in 2009 when the National Enquirer broke the news that Woods had been cheating on his wife… and everyone wanted to know more.

Stage two is the unfolding drama. “The spotlight moves from the incident to the response and the victims” (Meier 59). This is the reputation-forming stage. In this stage you are supposed to keep the media updated on any actions you’ve taken or plan to take. In this stage Woods informed the media that he decided to take an indefinite leave from golf while he worked out his marriage.

Stage three is the blame game. The finger-pointing stage. In this stage everyone is looking for who to blame. In this case, Woods was the obvious man to blame. He took full responsibility by giving an apologetic speech on CNN. He even took the time to apologize to the school his children went to for causing so much controversy. In an apologetic response to a voicemail he left to one of his mistresses he said, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves.” A note to keep in mind is that even though Woods took the blame, he was criticized for not sounding sincere and perhaps sounded more like a rehearsed robot. Maybe some quality media training could have helped?

Stage four is the resolution. “Typically, this stage marks the end of the crisis; there is some resolution” (Meier 75). For Woods, his crisis ultimately ended with a divorce and a damaged reputation. He lost sponsorships and spokesperson positions. This incident is forever with his name. However, in this stage Woods must focus on rebuilding relationships. The point of this stage is to learn from what happened to ensure that a mistake as such is never made again.

Proper planning for these stages is essential to handle a crisis effectively. Practice and learning from other crisis’s will help you be prepared for the next crisis situation your organization may have to face.





Bacon, S. (2010, August 23). The complete Tiger Woods timeline, from Escalade to divorce. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from,264574

Vale, T. (2010, March 16). Tiger Woods timeline: How events unfolded. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from

Jordan-Meier, J. (2011). The four stages of highly effective crisis management: How to manage the media in the digital age. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Tiger Woods’ apology: Full transcript. (2010, February 19). Retrieved March 03, 2016, from



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