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Why Tiger Woods, Companies and Governors Can't Hide Anymore

Tiger isn’t the first case of failing to come clean fast in 2009; we’ve seen this many times this year

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I don’t know if Tiger Woods cheated on Elin with Rachel Uchitel, is a reckless operator, was having an argument, was in a hurry to get out of his house around 2 a.m. or just wanted a new SUV.

And I really don’t care.

What bugs me in what I thought was an era of growing transparency for all brands (companies, organizations, governments, people) is a still remarkably frequent hesitancy to come clean publicly.

At the time of this writing, Tiger still hasn’t spoken with law enforcement authorities, choosing instead to post a statement on his Web site saying, “This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way.”

When you’re a billion dollar brand, this course gets a little dicey.

Tiger isn’t the first case of failing to come clean fast in 2009; we’ve seen this many times this year.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has denied doing anything wrong for months. He disappeared for days this summer, reappearing to finally admit to an extramarital affair with his Argentinian “soul mate.” Facing 37 ethics charges related to campaign money and airline travel, Sanford still isn’t coming clean.

Balloon boy’s Dad, Richard Heene cried crocodile tears, set up a box for reporter questions and told the world his son’s disappearance was “absolutely no hoax.” There were lots of statements and press interviews before the kid climbed down from his attic perch above his garage in Fort Collins, CO and spilled the beans by saying “you had said that we did this for a show.”

Apple got pressure when it continued to not disclose what was going on with Steve Jobs’ “hormonal imbalance” weight loss issue, the prevalent angle before his liver transplant disclosure in June. People were upset because boards of public companies need to comply with disclosure laws protecting shareholders when CEO illnesses keep them away from work.

It happened again last month when Lazard Ltd.’s CEO Bruce Wasserstein was hospitalized for heart problems. A lot of people were upset because they felt there wasn’t enough transparency around the prominent investment banker’s eight week absence and health disclosure in 2006.

Say what you want about David Letterman, but the guy got in front of it.

I agree with social media guru Chris Brogan. In his new book, Trust Agents, he said, “Those who are active on the Web now realize that they need to embrace this new transparency, that all things will now eventually be known. Companies can no longer hide behind a veneer of a shiny branding campaign, because customers are one Google search away from the truth. Further, they join activist groups to stay informed about new practices, so they are often one step ahead of the people trying to profit from them. Companies must acknowledge that they are as naked on the Web as individuals are."

Let’s transparently toast to a more transparent 2010.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Andy Beaupre

Andy Beaupre is a 35-year branding and communications professional. He is a senior counselor with Beaupre and heads the firm’s clean technology practice.