Monday, 17 March 2008

Murray starts to play the media game

A few weeks ago I wrote about how media relations is (or should be) as an important aspect of professional sport as nutrition or sports psychology. I also said that this is an area where Andy Murray, understandably, has a lot to learn.

To date Murray has had a strained relationship with the media which means he's had more than his fair share of bad press. Much of this could have been avoided with a smarter approach to PR.

No one wants to see him go down the road of Beckham style over exposure but there's no excuse for not getting the basics right.

So I was pleased to hear that Murray has appointed a new PR adviser - Stuart Higgins, a former editor of The Sun. Higgins specialises in consumer brand building, celebrity PR, and the cross over between the two.

If I were Higgins I'd give Murray the following advice:

* Professional tennis is hard enough without parts of the media gunning for you. Show them some respect and your life will get easier.

* Remember the media are not the enemy. They have a job to do and column inches or air time to fill. Give them what they want and you'll start to see an improvement in the tone of their coverage.

* But always be mindful of the power of the press. An unguarded remark can easily be taken out of context and be used against you. So don't clam up or change your personality, but do think about how your 'dry' sense of humour can be mis-interpreted.

* Though it may not always seem like it most of the tennis press want you to succeed almost as much as you do. Most (but not all!) are true tennis fans and if you were to win a Slam then its likely to be the only time their copy gets on the front page or leads the news bulletin.

* And above all else you need to act like a champion if you want to be a champion.

It will be interesting to watch the 'Higgins effect' at work.

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