Mark Ward, director of corporate communications, EMEA & APAC at Wizards of the Coast, talks about what it takes to not just be good at PR for globally recognised brands, but to “Be Legendary” at it.
What is your job role and how would you describe your typical day at work?
As the director of corporate communications for EMEA & APAC, my role is to build and enhance our corporate reputation, as well as lead our PR, influencer and social marketing teams and campaigns.
My typical day is extremely varied and involves engaging with media contacts, working with our brand marketing teams and PR agency network on our Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering campaigns, liaising with our senior leadership team on press interviews and public speaking opportunities and planning events and awards submissions. I also connect with our marvellous CSR partners, including BAFTA, Women In Games, Digipride and GamesAid, and trade associations, including Ukie. As a member of the leadership team myself, I try to spend as much time as I can supporting not only my teams but the wider business.
I’m incredibly lucky to report into Brian Trunk, our VP & general manager for EMEA, APAC & LATAM, whose effervescence inspires and motivates me every day, so I always strive to reach that gold standard.
It’s a hugely exciting time to be at Wizards of the Coast, as our traditional tabletop games have expanded into the digital gaming space with the release of Magic: The Gathering Arena on mobile and PC and D&D: Dark Alliance on console and PC. Alongside our digital expansion, we’re also the custodians of the immense heritage behind our games franchises and we have a 30th anniversary event for Magic in Las Vegas in October and the 50th anniversary for D&D in 2024!
D&D, in particular, has seen a huge growth in popularity and features prominently in the latest season of Stranger Things, as well as the D&D: Honour Among Thieves film in March 2023, where I’m also supporting my UK colleagues at eOne who, along with Wizards of the Coast, are also part of the Hasbro family.
What qualifications and/or experience do you need to land your job?
I’ve worked both PR agency-side and client side, across games, film and tech, and that combination has proven incredibly useful for my current role.
The years I spent working at my first PR agency and learning my trade from some class acts (I’m looking at you, Dean Barrett, Ciaran Brennan and Simon Byron) in the early part of my career enabled me to quickly cut my teeth working in PR in the games sector and go on to represent a large number of different developers and publishers. I think it’s really useful to have worked at a PR agency previously, if part of your role is to manage agencies.
Experience working with regional teams in different time zones is also essential, alongside an understanding and appreciation of the nuances of the media and influencer landscape in different territories.
Speaking additional languages in an international role is obviously advantageous and I’ve been attending an adult education class to learn Spanish for the last couple of years. Learning a new language has been an absolute joy and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
If you were interviewing someone for your team, what would you look for?
Whilst relevant skills and experience are obviously important, I have a keen eye for attitude. Skills can be taught and experience built, but enthusiasm, team-focus, energy and a willingness to learn are crucial for me. That kind of positive energy is contagious and helps to contribute to our wider Wizards culture and values.
One of the values that defines us at Wizards is to “Be Legendary”. That is to practise excellence, improve on our legacy and create awesome. To achieve that takes a special kind of team and I’m super proud to work alongside that team every day at Wizards.
What opportunities are there for career progression?
We have great opportunities for career progression at Wizards of the Coast and our current growth is presenting exciting new opportunities all the time. We’re both a developer and publisher of gaming content and we nurture and develop our talent across a huge number of different professional disciplines. Check us out!