We all need crib sheets, even world number one Andy Murray

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World number tennis star Andy Murray reached his 10th consecutive Wimbledon quarter-final yesterday when he beat hipster bearded Frenchman Benoit Paire in straight sets. Next up is beanpole American Sam Querry. Andy is favourite to reach another semi-final as long as he remembers to be good to himself, focus on each point and stay low on passes! 

Yes despite winning three Grand Slams and two Olympic gold medals,  Andy is just like the rest of us.

The Scot uses a crib sheet to help stay focused at key times during matches.

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I loved it a few years ago when he left one behind at the Rotterdam Open and a fan nabbed it and posted its contents on Twitter.

The endearing sheet of paper covered in handwritten slogans makes Andy more human rather than less because it shows he needs to constantly remind himself to get the basics right.

Keep going for your serve. Be intense with your legs. Be good to yourself (which also happens to be a title of a hit song by fellow Scot Frankie Miller back in the day).

Most of us do the same, either mentally in our heads or, emulating Andy, by jotting it down on a piece of paper or on a computer.

Like Andy, I play tennis and recently booked a few tennis lessons with the head coach at my local tennis club because you’re never too old to improve your game.

Why?

I am an OK club player but I could be better and raise my level. After each session, I created my own crib sheets to use when I am playing league matches.

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Mine contained simple tips like pivoting on my left foot before setting up for a smash. Thinking height when serving. And stepping forward into volleys.

I adopt the same approach to when I am planning content for PR and communications activities. As with my tennis, I try and keep it very simple.

  1. What do I want to achieve with my content –  how do I engage my audience and show what is in it for them if they read or view my copy?

  2. Who do I want to reach with my content – who is my audience and what tone of voice do I need?

  3. What hook am I going to use for the activity – this dictates my timings for distribution (this blog, for example, coincides with Wimbledon and the BBC’s blanket coverage of the sport)?

  4. How will I measure if the activity built around the content is successful – what performance criteria do I need to set before I start?

  5. How best can I present the message so it is clearly and easily understood – what different media can I use to carry the news?

  6. What media platforms do I want to use to distribute the content in its various formats (such as press releases, social media (Facebook and Twitter), youtube, e-mail)?

  7. What help and resources do I need to achieve my objectives outlined in the previous six points?

Using these guidelines works and keeps me focused on achieving my goals. If I am struggling with copy, it’s because I am trying to be too clever and over complicated. I need to revisit the crib sheet in my head and tick off the boxes to remind me less is more.

Focus on one message at a time.

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Just as I need to remind myself that if I hit a serve into the net, I need to ensure the ball toss on the next is higher, my left arm acts as an effective guide and I am aiming for the service line, rather than clearing the net!!

If you want to find out more about how you can improve your PR and communications performance call 07850 933350 or email andrew@afc-uk.co.uk.

PS: I don’t recommend taking coaching tips for tennis from me, but it you fancy a thrash!