By Shelcie Takenouchi
This month’s column is brought to you by Shelcie Takenouchi, an associate with Fujita & Miura Public Relations and student at USC pursuing a major in public relations.
For all those who love the game of golf, hackers and pros alike, the Sunday round at the 2006 United States Open was dramatic and entertaining. Phil Mickelson, the third ranked professional golfer in the world according to “Golfweek,” began the day tied for the lead and was expected by many to be the next U.S. Open champion. As a little background, the U.S. Open is one of the PGA tour’s most prestigious tournaments in golf history and has also been known to be one of the hardest titles to obtain on the tour. Phil held onto the lead going into the 18th hole, but somehow had a slip of concentration when trying to be too aggressive with a shot out of the rough. In an instant, the title slipped from his grasp as he double-bogeyed the hole.
Rather than focusing on the winner of the tournament, every media venue zoned in on Phil’s defeat. What made Phil’s loss so captivating to the press is that he lost the tournament for himself; the winner did not win from playing spectacular golf. “Golfweek” quotes Phil as saying, “So it hurts because I had it in my grasp and just let it go.” Geoff Ogilvy, the Aussie who won the tournament even admitted, “I think I was the beneficiary of a little bit of charity.”
The PR tip here for professional athletes, CEOs, employees, and companies in general is that no one person or entity is perfect or has the market cornered on making mistakes. Some mistakes may be more costly than others, but the important thing is to acknowledge the mistake, accept criticism graciously, and take responsibility.
This is always easier said than done though right? When you goof, your publics like to know that you have admitted and accepted your faults rather than generating excuses or blaming others. The media and public in general is tough on those who make mistakes, so accepting failure, especially publicly through the media, is a hard thing to do. No one wants to seem weak or incompetent. However, you will always be admired (like Phil was) if you demonstrate honesty and resilience. Show your publics that you can move beyond the mistake, grow stronger and better, and have a positive outlook on the future. In other words, if you find yourself in the rough, hit it out onto the fairway and focus on nothing but the flagstick.