Norwegian footballer Ada Hegerberg has just won the first ever Ballon D’Or for the world's best women's player, but the media headlines are all about DJ host Martin Solveig asking Hegerberg if she knows how to twerk.
Andy Murray ‘grammed, “Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport. What questions did they ask Mbappe and Modric? I'd imagine something about football.”
It’s a shame that not many people from the business world are willing to speak up about their own personal beliefs or stories in this way.
Murray regularly speaks about achievements in women’s tennis; he challenged a reporter who he felt was overlooking women's achievements in his press conference at Wimbledon in 2017. The journalist was midway through asking a question, saying to Murray:
"Sam is the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009."
"Male player," Murray said.
He repeated that remark, before the journalist said: "Yes, first male player, that's for sure."
Murray talks quite openly these days about sexism in professional sport. He also walks the walk – he was the first prominent male tennis player to hire a female coach, Amelie Mauresmo, back in 2015.
And I personally don’t believe Murray promotes women’s rights for the sake of his image. The passion that comes across in his voice and choice of language on these issues makes me 100% certain these are his actual beliefs. His choice of soapbox is interesting too – he doesn’t just talk about these issues in profile interviews and ‘PR’ opportunities where journalists tee him up with the right questions – he uses his personal social media accounts and even inserts it into interviews where the topic is only tangentially relevant to the issue. It permeates everything he does, financially, professionally and with the media.
Ultimately, talking about women’s sport does nothing to support his personal ambition to win tournaments, Grand Slams, and climb up the rankings.
But it almost certainly does help him negotiate the right brand partnerships, open up doors in the media, and hopefully ultimately make a difference in the real world.
The fact that Murray is becoming a ‘personality’ that we can be proud to put up on the world stage, because of his interesting upbringing, beliefs and willingness to talk about these in the media means he’s no longer just a sports star. He’s relevant to wider society. It’s not a jump that many people make – from their sector or industry, into the broader cultural hive mind.
I’m always fascinated to find out about the personal beliefs and anecdotes of the spokespeople we work with at Hotwire. As my colleague Lindsay Riddell says – I believe everyone has a story. But it’s hard work. People think that they only thing their PR agency should be promoting on their behalf are their products, their brand, or industry trends.
It’s not true though. Personal experiences make for great reading, and journalists love them. A skilled PR person can weave relevant messages into these stories, and the net result for your brand and company is a more human image. People buy from people at the end of the day, so there nothing more valuable for your sales strategy than that.
Get in touch if you want to talk about profiling media opportunities – Eleanor.Sampson@HotwireGlobal.com
The Olympic gold medalist describes himself as a feminist and is an advocate for equal pay