What's it like to be a part of the Esports media industry? How do streaming affect Esport as a whole? Today, we're going to be answering those questions with Sharon Coone, the editor-in-chief at Blitz Esports. Good to see you Sharon. Good to be here. In your opinion, what are the most popular types of Esports articles and videos to produce? Then, what's your personal favorite after that? There's a few categories, very common and popular are interviews with players, other publicized by player: "from player". Those are cheap, simple, you'll see them lot. Another type you get, long-form features. These are less successful. The average Esports audience member does not like to read more than about like 500 words. Five hundred words, five minutes of video, those are like your soft caps. So, you get long-form features about narratives, less successful. You have analysis content which is what we do a lot, we do play breakdowns, that's super popular. Other categories, opinion pieces; less popular because unless somebody that the community cares about is giving the opinion, nobody cares. Usually people don't form attachments to writers nowadays. So, personal favorite is this tactical stuff. I find that because across all the Esports, the viewers are players. So, they care a lot about breaking down how they could improve their play. Okay. So, moving this into another topic, what are the differences in covering the various Esport titles? Like there's a lot of different Esport titles that you have to cover, are there any major differences between working with them? So, exactly some logistical differences, League of Legends and Overwatch are based here in Los Angeles. So, what Alex will do is go to the Arena, watch the games, afterwards, we worked with PR to get one on one interviews with the players. Then, there are things like CS:GO which are logistically very difficult. Valve's not really running the PR so you can't go through them. You have to contact teams who are around the world. Some don't go to some tournaments, some go to others, it's a mess. Audience wise, audiences are also very different. Overwatch League is very new, so it's not very player based. It's people who are fans of the game and the gameplay itself. So, they like more and more game-based content, cool players. In League of Legends, people are really attached to personalities because they've been around for so long. So, stuff featuring players, or things that they're saying or opinions they have, very strong. CS:GO, tough nut, it's a very gritty community because it's so grassroots, and they care a lot about the drama, and they care a lot about the stories, CS:GO has a lot of stories. The players are older, and they're tattooed, and the prison time in CS:GO is much larger than all the other Esports. So, definitely, different communities, they all have different interests. All right. Some game is more fun to cover than others depending on what you're doing? Do you bounce between different Espotitles being your favorite to cover? Do you consistently find one's a little bit more fun, like, what determines that for you? I think the ones that are most fun are where the fans are most rabid. So, what do you mean by that? So, fans that love their community, they are interested in content, not just because it pleases them, but because it's good for the community. We see that a lot in League of Legends and Overwatch as it's growing now. They want content because it makes them smarter and makes other people smarter, it makes them feel good about the players or themselves or it brings them closer. So, that's why League of Legends and Overwatch can be a little more fun to work in than something like CS:GO where people are a little more interested. It's less of a community, it's more dispersed. Do certain games styles or Esports lend themselves to different types of articles or different types of video pieces? Can you have any examples of that? Yeah, definitely. This is most noticeable for me in Dota. So, in Dota, the game is actually designed. There aren't a lot of metas in Dota, and that's because the strengths and gameplay or how different characters interact with each other and because of that, the gameplay professionally is very teamwork based, and you don't get a lot of stars, like individual stars. So, there aren't a lot of player narratives in Dota and it's extremely hard to cover. We see that also a little bit in Overwatch. So, in League of Legends, you get like the mid liner or the AD Carry roles, are usually the very popular and it's because it's very easy to recognize a successful powerful player in those positions because they're just killing a lot of people. It's easy to recognize greatness. A game-like Overwatch sometimes, we see that already people are big fans of AD carry is like [inaudible] or flower because it's easily observe them getting kills and it's exciting, but if someone pops off on like a diva, no one's going to rage over that. So, because Overwatch is a team game with roles that are flexible or roles that aren't DPS based, you get fewer players stories that way. So, Overwatch definitely is developing that, CS:GO and League have very player based things, and you have to make different content for all those. Okay. So, for the players that are in less popular roles like that, do you think it's good for any player to do with, especially for them, do you think it's good that they kind of build up their brand personality so they can be in the media too in a way like that? Yes. I talk with players a lot. I get them in interview rooms a lot, and they default to a nice person personality, like I just want to answer the interview questions correctly and I want to move on with my life. It is so important for them to brand, and they either brand just like, they can brand is like an intelligent player or a trash talking player, or the confident player, or the insightful player, or like the obtuse one that makes weird jokes about water which we haven't in League of Legends with Moon. He just drink water and so stay hydrated and that's his brand. That makes things easier on our side. If I ever wanted to do special content, it's easier to do it with Moon than with somebody who hasn't developed a personality and therefore people who can attach to it. Let's talk about a completely separate topic here, it's a fun one. Let's talk about streaming in the media. So, when it comes to streaming, just in general, how do you think that streaming affects Esports from a media perspective. Things like Twitch are becoming like the cable network or the young person right now. It's where you discover the top content or the top personalities. So, how streaming effects Esports, one, it's where we recognize what the popular games are. You go to the Twitch and you see what's up. That's how PUBG gained popularity. They like blasted all of their streamer that wants to hit the front page. Now people are considering PUBG as an Esport just because it's been on top of Twitch and people have watched it. In terms of players, players who retired can go on Twitch and stream, but it also helps develop players. So, if we look at Overwatch League, a lot of its talent right now has been streamers going into the professional scene, and that's because if I'm really good at Overwatch, I'm going to keep playing it because I can stream and make money, and there's motivation for me to stick with Overwatch. But, if there's no tweets, why do I keep playing Overwatch, and if I don't keep playing Overwatch to a competitive level and try to be publicly the best, do you get the same talent pool? For the Overwatch League, where are you pulling it from? How do you even know who to access some? For Overwatch League, some players weren't drafted because they were huge streamers. Do you think that streaming is going continue to be big or do you think it'll stay pretty even as Esports gets larger? Do you think the streaming community will become larger with more viewership from different areas? I think it'll be huge. Streaming is so important for connecting with personality. Streaming is important personally because anyone can get on Twitch. You yourself [inaudible] into Esports. It's a lot through that. I think, additionally, it's helped people consume video game content most. I know this, I used to write just about video games in general and not Esports. The video game journalists themselves are losing power to Twitch streamers because if I want to know more about a game or figure out cool things about it, I can go on Twitch and just watch somebody for a half hour of my time. It's the new cable network, it's what people do with their free time nowadays where they plays it. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Okay. So, let's move on to the social media aspect of journalism and producing. So, what is Blitz's strategy when it comes to social media? You guys have a very public facing channel where you release a lot of content. So, can you talk to me a little bit about that? Yeah. So, Social media. It's about getting shares. So, it doesn't matter how many likes you get if you don't get retweeted, because you're not putting your brand in anyone's face, or reminding anybody about it. So, everything you craft on social media should be with the goal to get someone else to retweet it, and that can be really difficult because, and you probably, anyone can feel as personally. You could like 20 things, but you're probably going to retweet one or fewer things in a day, because you're really picky about what you present to your follower base. So, everything you craft on social media, you only have to think what your followers would like about what your followers followers words are like it's kind of like a double psychological analysis here. So, you have to make content that your followers are going to retreat to their fan bases, and that's why if you look at our channel, we have a lot of pictures, we have a lot of quotes. It's stuff that's easy for fans of Esports, players of Esports, and Esports teams to want to retweet. It's great content for their personal brands which makes it great content for your brand. Do you feel like brands in the past especially, since in Esports are relatively new have struggled with that sort of thing. Yes, and I think the biggest mistake people have is assuming that they have brand power before they do. So, if you're a rooster teeth, you can post a picture of you and your coworkers eating cake and people will like it and retweet it because they like you. If you're a new company, you can't just make memes and stuff out of yourself and your personality and no one's going to share it. No one's going to find value in it. So, one is like established like a brand identity and if you're a person, it's not about you, it's about what you put out there and can it get shared and I'll tell you, the LA gladiators, their graphic designer right now, he got hired because he was creating content on Twitter. He was making up brand identities for teams that didn't exist just making himself, putting them on Twitter, because he knew that they would go viral, people retweet it because they love Over watch, and then that's how gladiators eventually saw him, found him, and hired him just through- he made content that he knew would get retweeted not liked retweeted. So, it makes a lot of sense. So, let's transition to that for the students who are interested in journalism, and articles, and producing, and all that sort of thing. What advice can you give to aspiring students who are interested in these sports journalism? My biggest advice always is do the job you want. Just start doing it. So, if you want to be an Esports writer, producer, start writing right now. I hope you are already. No one's going to hire you without a portfolio. I can love you to death, but if you don't show me you can create stuff and five other people did, I got to take my chances on them. So, it doesn't matter if you don't publish it anywhere, you could have a WordPress blog post, or you just have them. I get applications sometimes, I ask for samples and people will say like, "I don't have any." Well, make some you have word processor. It's not crazy, but do the job that an Esports reported as wake up, look at the sub-reddit, check out all the other news beads, what's the big story, how are you going to reach an audience today if you had to. Well, would you write, how would you title it? Make sure you're good at titles. Pick pictures for it. Show that you can format an article. If you want to be a producer, you don't have to film anything or edit it. Make scripts, one of my application pieces to Blitz. Was, I imagine the interviews I would do, I imagine the quotes I would get and then I just sort of arrange that with some assets in a Google Doc. It's sort of the script of the video, but didn't have to edit anything or interview any players. Right. And then part two that is going to be getting attention and that can be hard. What I don't see people do a lot that they probably should is that, the main hub for all content is sub-brands for these Esports. So, our global offensive are legal legends are competitive over watch and I wake up every morning and I look at the league of legends sub-brands. I look at all the sub-brands and that's where my content needs to end up that's where all my competitors content is going to add up, and you can post on it. You can post your own. As long as you're you know and respect the rules of the sub-brands, you can post your own content there in as like a Wordpress link or like just a block of text and if you can demonstrate, if you can write good stuff and get it to the front page, I'm going to see it. If you do that twice, at least twice, I'm going to notice you, and I'm going to look into you, and I want to know if you work for anybody. Nobody does that. So what about freelancing? So freelancing is really important. Almost every Esports will take freelancers because they don't have a lot of money and it's cheaper to hire out concept than hire a whole person. Sure. But, just not you're never going to make a living off of it. That is only for getting your name out and getting some experience and getting some reputation with some local editors and to do. If you want to freelance, you have to stop caring so much about writing and start really carrying about marketing and sales pitches. Because, I get a lot of pitches that focus on, this is what I find interesting and nowhere in the process did they think, "Does community think it's interesting with audience?" So, as a writer or a producer, you're a salesperson your content is your product and your client is the audience and they're gonna pay with their time, that and their attention, that is a currency here. So, you need to convince me that my audience wants to read your content. So, you can ask like, "Is this something people talk about a lot and I'm rehashing it? Am I bringing anything new to this, that is interesting? Would I click on this headline? What headline would I put on it?" I see a lot of freelancer pitches that don't think about that stuff and I just can't use their content. I don't need another pitch of should Esport be considered a sport? Or like should Esports be in the Olympics? They're hashed out and honestly, you also have to think of why would someone listen to you on this? You as a person, if you just throw in your opinion in into the box, not all people will pick up on it. If you have a new angle, or you have somebody with professional experience speaking in the piece, then it's a little more interesting. So, always think about every single pitch email that you send out absolutely has to tell them, what is about? What kind of headlines you would put on it? Why the audience will Iike it? Thanks Sharon for taking the time to talk to us about the media. It was good to be here. That was Sharon Coone, the editor in chief at what's Esports on Esports media and how to be successful.