Three esports executives, with years of experience in the industry under their belt, have announced the launch of The Story Mob—a dedicated esports communication consultancy.
Anna Rozwandowicz, formerly ESL’s VP of Communications at ESL, Nicola Piggot, formerly Riot Games’ communications lead for esports, and Kalie Moore, formerly head of communications at BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, have created an independent consultancy firm, to fill the market gap, and support companies with no in-house PR departments.
The Esports Observer talked to the founders of The Story Mob and discussed their motivations, their goals, and the challenges they might face by leaving some of esports’ strongest companies to set up their own business.
All three of you have been around in this industry for quite some time. Why is it the right time to launch a communications agency, right now?
Anna: Between us we have over 12 years experience in esports, so we’ve seen an incredible amount of growth. With investment pouring into the industry, it’s more important than ever that teams, brands and organizers have the right people in their corner when it comes to developing an authentic esports voice. We saw traditional PR firms try and fail to adopt the esports lexicon—and esports orgs struggle without seasoned communications experience to navigate big announcements and stormy waters. We believe we offer the perfect middle ground.
Nicola: Anna, Kalie, and I have worked together in various capacities over a few years and bumped into each other at events and tournaments. We realized we shared a lot of the same goals and frustrations when it came to communications in the esports space and were equally hungry to take the next step and offer counsel to multiple brands. The timing and chemistry was right and we think together we offer the most well-rounded solution for esports communications in the market right now.
You’re leaving high-tier positions at some of the most influential companies in esports. What’s so appealing about starting up something like Story Mob?
Nicola: Working for Riot Games for nearly six years gave me a front seat for some of the most significant moments of esports history. From filling Olympic stadiums for esports tournaments to launching permanent partnerships in the NA LCS, I’ve been incredibly privileged to be part of it and to bring what I’ve learned into my next role. Helping brands and companies at different stages of their esports journey – including those taking very their first step – feels like an intoxicating challenge for all of us.
Kalie: We’re lucky to have worked with leaders in the esports space who remain in our corner – in my case, Jens Hilgers of BITKRAFT who introduced me to the esports market and who is the lead investor in The Story Mob. Esports is still a small world, and it’s our hope to continue to work closely with those that helped shape our career. So it’s not really a loss…..more of an evolution!
What makes your work different from an in-house PR/communications department? Why should a client decide to work with you?
Anna: There’s a real lack of senior communications pros with esports experience out there – as we all found out when we tried to hire for our former teams, or when we have been approached to join existing teams that were looking for hires with our profiles. We specifically designed The Story Mob to be as close to in-house counsel as you can get with an external consultancy – we take on select, long-term projects and embed ourselves as deeply as we can to understand our clients’ goals and aims. Plus, you don’t have to teach us esports, or explain to us why fans care desperately about a format change, a roster swap or where the next World Championship is being held.
If teams don’t have an inhouse team, we can help to fill that gap – or, on a longer-term basis, we can work as a support and extension when and if they hire dedicated comms pros. Our experience across major esports and ecosystems means that we can offer honest counsel based on multiple layers of experience.
Are you planning to stick to yourselves for a start, or are you hiring straight away?
Kalie: We’ve built The Story Mob on a management consultancy model rather than a traditional PR agency – we’re all senior communications pros and are deeply invested in the day to day of each client we work with.
It’s our plan to build throughout this year and make strategic adds to the team to increase our capacity, but as co-founders we plan to stay as primary contacts for our clients. Too many agencies delegate a large percentage of client work to more junior team members – as a smaller shop, we have the flexibility to be able to take on work we feel passionately about as individuals.
You put some emphasis on the fact that you’re an all-female start-up, a rarity in esports. Why do you think that’s so important? And what kind of pro-bono work do you have in mind to boost womens’ involvement in esports?
Kalie: It’s not surprising that esports is a traditionally male-dominated space, but we were equally conscious that only 2.2% of VC funding went to female founding teams in 2017. Representation in any industry doesn’t happen inorganically – it’s achieved through hard work and dedication. With that said, we believe there’s more that can be done to encourage female entrepreneurship. The barrier to launching a business can be bewildering and off-putting – even to seasoned pros who have been working for some time. We will also be launching some pro bono work later this year as individuals (I am and will continue to be a mentor with TechStars and the Berlin Geekettes) and as a company that support diversity within the esports and tech spaces.