Mis-Communicator of the Week: Andy Murray

Most people in PR will be aware of the frequently quoted advice from mega investor and multi-billionaire, Warren Buffett, that “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”.

Perhaps it is time to revise Buffett’s words to, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and one tweet to ruin it”, after yet another public figure undermined years of hard work in one ill-advised social media opinion-cast. 

It was with real frustration that I saw Andy Murray’s late, late intervention in the Scottish independence referendum via his Twitter account. Last July I had made him my Communicator of the Week a few days before his historic Wimbledon triumph.

Murray’s communication efforts were, at last, matching his fantastic performances on the tennis court. He was slowly building a positive reputation through telling his personal story and showing his human side away from the aggressive on-court demeanour. His communication was planned and effective; even sceptical English tennis fans warmed to him. 

Andy Murray, despite living in Surrey and not having a vote in the referendum, is perfectly entitled to give an opinion on anything he likes. Clearly as the first British winner of Wimbledon since 1936 expressing a pro-independence view would have annoyed some. For me though it was the way it was done, as if in a fit of pique or slight embarrassment of what he was doing, that made his intervention more damaging than if he had passionately exposed a pro-independence view in another way.  

Now Murray has said he is disappointed with his Tweet as if it had been sent by someone else. With the level of abuse Murray received, including mention of the Dunblane school massacre which Murray survived, I feel sorry for him and wonder what advice he was given before sending his Tweet.

A bit of planning on the matter a week ago would have saved a lot of regret now and begs the question why he didn’t make a more considered intervention via a newspaper or broadcast interview days, not hours, before the polls opened.  

In 140 characters Andy Murray’s standing as a great British champion has been damaged and a reputation diminished, which is why he is my Mis-Communicator of the Week.

Communicator of the Week is written by Ed Staite.

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