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Voices of AOE: Erin Zakin

One thing that bands professionals across the esports industry together is their passion for what they do. Marketing manager Erin Zakin is no exception. Bright and bubbly, Zakin’s presence, both at AOE Creative and in the industry overall, is like a breath of fresh air. Her positive nature and can-do attitude motivate everyone around her, and her dedication to helping clients achieve their goals has uplifted the company through the course of the year that she’s been here.

Coming from Pennsylvania, Zakin entered the marketing field after graduating from Messiah University. For her, gaining more experience in the area was important before entering the realm of gaming - her true passion. While working in a more formal business setting, she gained experience in digital marketing, specifically social media and email marketing. It was only a short time before Zakin landed at Nerd Street Gamers, a national network of esports facilities that host events dedicated to giving opportunities for gamers to compete. While working at Nerd Street, Zakin used her background in marketing and communications to help develop its marketing strategy to promote the local host gaming and esports centers they have across the country. She also covered tournaments on Nerd Street’s socials for their tournaments, primarily Overwatch and Valorant.

Overwatch has been one of the more impactful games in Zakin’s life and career. Like many others in 2016, she caught the Overwatch bug and never looked back. It wasn’t until 2020 that her love for the game started to drift toward the professional side. “One of my dream clients was to work with Activision Blizzard, or specifically Overwatch in some capacity,” Erin recalls, “[That’s] what initially drew me to AoE because they had an opening for someone who could work on the Overwatch League account, which for me was literally a dream come true.”

Since joining the AoE team, Zakin has had the opportunity to work with many clients, but her day-to-day routine consists of working with both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty accounts. Working at an agency, one never knows what kind of day they’ll have, but Zakin appreciates the variety of challenges often thrown her way. Whatever hurdles she comes across force her to think outside the box and develop creative solutions, motivating her to strive to do better, personally and in the esports scene overall.

“Working (in gaming) - I see so much potential, and I like to find my passion in hoping that my efforts improve the industry because overall, it is still a very young industry, and (while) we have grown so much, there’s also still so much that we can do better.”

While Zakin’s experience in esports has been mostly positive, she is well aware of the various issues women face in the industry. However, even she still experiences moments of pressure regarding her gender. “Even though (I feel) respected and valued, there is this pressure of ‘I’m the only one who has this perspective,’” Zakin explains. “And that’s something that’s really encouraged me to continue to work in this space.” Zakin’s overall goal is to make sure her efforts help pave the way for others, to make things easier for women joining the industry behind her.

This is Zakin’s why: why she gets up in the morning, why she works as hard as she does. Her love and passion for making the esports industry a better place are always at the forefront of her mind. This is why she strongly values having a team willing to give her honest feedback. “Sometimes you might think that you’re the best ever at a certain job, [but] you might [need] someone that is very willing to give you a slice of humble pie,” She laughs, “I think everyone needs [that] sometimes.”

Being able to take constructive criticism is an essential quality that Zakin thinks one needs to be able to work in esports. At our core, we are all creatives with artistic visions, but it’s always important to incorporate feedback into our work. For Zakin, this is one of the many benefits of hiring an agency in esports. Having a team of people who can point you in the right direction regarding creative vision, marketing ideas, and strategic thinking can make a world of difference when trying to build a social media campaign. Surrounding yourself with individuals from varied backgrounds will always push you to learn and grow, especially when handling feedback or data. Data is vital when creating a successful marketing plan, and it’s a big part of her general advice to anyone looking to get into strategic marketing management.

“Don’t be afraid to take risks, but also understand that there are times when you need to take a step back, look at your data, look at your resources, and figure out what is the best way to go about what you’re trying to accomplish.”

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