Swipe Right PR is a London-based entertainment technology agency. Nominated for MCV's Best PR & Comms Team two years in a row, the agency offers everything from corporate communications and events management, right through to brand strategy and marketing. We asked Kirsty, Swipe Right's founder and all around boss, to spill the beans on how to PR esports.
It’s old now, to talk about the growth of the esports industry. Everyone has seen the numbers and read the headlines and the esports industry continues to thrive with a growing audience, talent pool and countless competitive games being developed. Big non endemic brands are banging down the doors of major esports organisations and are being turned down.
But what does this have to do with PR? As an agency we know the ultimate goal is to grow your brand and user-base, generating investment or sponsorship along the way. To do that we look to help you to tell a story and to find your audience. But it’s also in our interest as an agency to further the growth of the industry in general as opposed to helping companies with one off wins. To do this when Swipe Right PR work with our clients to build a strategy we focus on a three-pronged approach:
Know your story
Mainstream media are still keen to talk about esports as a new trend. This requires us to talk about the same numbers and prize money or to continue the narrative of whether esports should be a sport or — gulp — part of the Olympics. This is a very attractive thing to do and you can still grab headlines but this isn’t healthy and it isn’t original. Yes, headlines can help to generate funding but you are doing your brand a disservice.
Integrity is key within the esports community. They want to know your story, where your product or platform stemmed from and what your plans are. They can smell when something is off.
Do you have something they can invest in? Your PR person or agency should be able to generate new, creative headlines around your talent, technology, game or league.
Know your audience
Traditional media still offers incredible value and brand awareness but your targets are endemic. If you want to encourage people to play your game or sign up to your league you need to drill down and figure out what they’re playing and consuming in terms of content.
Outlets such as Esports Pro, Dexerto or HLTV should be a priority and not secondary when it comes to accessing your team or tournament and Reddit, while it can be a double-edged sword can be vital to growing your community. This may sound like a simple and easy strategy but esports audiences are quick to judge so if your game isn’t balanced or your league isn’t fair they will be quick to comment and trust will not be regained overnight. It’s important to work with your media to make sure the coverage you generate stays on message and the community can’t poke holes in your story.
Know your end game
You’ve created a brand people recognise and talent want to invest in so now’s the time to follow through.
As an agency we’ve worked on plenty of one-off tournaments and that wasn’t the strategy at the start. Companies quickly realise that physical tournaments offer little value and viewing figures will not instantly be in the tens of thousands and are quick to rethink their esports strategy and rescind on their promises. While the media has become more sympathetic and it takes less time from their point of view for a company to bounce-back the community and brands will not be so easily placated if you’ve cost them time and money.
If you want to establish a league or build your platform it’s important to educate brands on our industry and to manage their expectations. What may work for their traditional audiences is unlikely to work in ours. And from a community and talent point of view it’s important for your strategy to have a long tail.
Lastly, let's all agree how we should write “esports.” There are no variations. Not e-sports or eSports. It’s esports.
Kirsty Endfield will be speaking and networking at our forthcoming Future Games Summit Esports Workshop. Tickets for the half-day workshop are £49+VAT. Why not buy one?