Photo credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com
Photo credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com
You’ve been living your best life in the days following your victory against Serena Williams at the US Open. All eyes (and Tweets, and Instagram posts…) are focused on you, with accolades from the likes of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Toronto Mayor John Tory and (finally) the 6 God himself, Drake. Your name is on everyone’s lips, and the tennis world (not to mention the entire country) is still revelling in your success. Even your hometown mayor has ridden the publicity wave, offering you a key to the City of Mississauga).
We know that what happened at Flushing Meadows will have a permanent impact on your personal and professional life. You no doubt already have countless offers on the table, and will soon make some very important decisions—and we want to help you make the right ones. While our on-court skills are questionable at best, we’re a top seed when it comes to communications strategy and sports marketing, so we’d like to offer you three pieces of advice to help guide your thinking in the days and months ahead.
1 . Choose your partnerships wisely
Your US$3.85 million US Open payday will soon seem like pennies compared with the endorsement and partnership offers that will be up for consideration, but at this nascent phase of your career, when hope and optimism are your core narrative, you have the luxury of time. Before putting pen to paper on a contract, use this opportunity to take stock of the values with which you want to be associated over the long term. We understand the temptation to accept the highest-paying offer, but the most lucrative partnerships are ultimately those that speak to who you are as both a person and athlete, and that can grow with you over time. The perfect example involves one of your current partners—Nike—and none other than Tiger Woods, a long-term partnership that defied the odds and persevered over a number of tumultuous years for the golfing legend. Loyalty and long-term vision are crucial traits for the reputation and public image of a young athlete, so carpe diem.
2. Think about your image (and the Olympics!)
Since your victory, your number of social media followers has increased at a rate of several thousand per day. This scrutiny is a reminder of the need to protect the image you project on social media. Your popularity will sometimes be a double-edged sword: you'll have the opportunity to express yourself and let your personality shine to millions of people, but each misstep could have a significant impact. Be vigilant about what you publish, and how you interact with other public figures and Internet users.
You are the rare Canadian athlete who can unite all corners of the country, and you therefore stand to gain even more goodwill by choosing to participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics. We know that the Games will come at a busy time, awkwardly sandwiched between Wimbledon and the Rogers Cup—but you only get to represent your country on what is arguably the world’s most prestigious (and certainly its most sentimental) sporting stage once every four years. Your image as Canada’s most beloved athlete would only further benefit from the sight of you waving our flag during the Opening Ceremony on July 24, 2020. It may not offer any prize money, but its reputational payoff is priceless.
3. Stay close to those who have your best interests at heart
Your growing popularity means always being in the media spotlight... for better and for worse. The key will be to choose your opportunities carefully while remaining open and accessible—and above all, not letting the attention go to your head. During his recent news conference in Montreal, your coach Sylvain Bruneau said it best: your focus needs to stay on the game. We can all name examples of talented athletes who let their off-court pursuits take precedence, but it’s a trap that can be avoided by making careful decisions about how you allocate your time.
We know that you’re surrounded by close family, friends and a coach (not to mention your beloved Coco) who will ensure that your focus remains on tennis, and that your success does not distract you from your lofty goals on the court.
But above all—and most importantly—don’t forget yourself in all of this. Think of your needs and those of your loved ones, and do what’s best for you.
So, with that, we wish you the best of luck for the end of the season (not that you’ll need it). We’re here if ever you need us… but so far, so good. We’ll be cheering you on.
Your friends at NATIONAL Public Relations
——— Written by Vincent Gagnon, Consultant, and Kristin Gable, former Vice-President and Sector Lead, Retail, NATIONAL Public Relations