Omar Batterjee | Innovator 25 EMEA 2021

Omar Batterjee

Head of Marketing, Communications & Partnerships

Saudi Esports Foundation

Saudi Arabia

Innovation is the hunger to solve a problem using new methods. It requires creativity, true understanding, and bravery."

A revolutionary sector like esports requires a revolutionary approach to communications. Omar Batterjee was brought into the Saudi Esports Federation to build its communication, marketing and partnerships division from the ground up, putting together the team that will help the organisation lead Saudi Arabia’s strategy for gaming and promote the exploding esports sector. Batterjee is known as a strong communicator with a commercial head, an analytical mind and an engaging demeanour. Previously a consultant at Hill + Knowlton Strategies Riyadh and MEMAC Ogilvy's Public Relations team, Batterjee was the advisor to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Sports and managed communication for global projects such as the Ruiz vs Joshua 2 world heavyweight title fight, the 2019 and 2018 Formula E Diriyah E-Prix, and client appearances at high-profile conferences such as Davos. He also is member of the MEPRA Youth Board, and was the first Saudi to win the MEPRA Dave Robinson Award for Outstanding Young Communicator of the Year in 2020.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
I believe it depends on the practitioner. If done with understanding, PR can be lead innovation in communication and marketing disciplines.

Do you think the global pandemic has made the industry more innovative?
Yes. The pandemic has pushed many to drop the previously necessary facade curated communication. It made way for a much more natural, emotionally appealing communication that focused on substance and the message more than the substance the gloss.

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Creative ideas.

Who most influences how innovative a brand's engagement is?
It should be a collective of a brave management team and creative minds working to reaching their audiences.

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is the hunger to solve a problem using new methods. It requires creativity, true understanding, and bravery.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Esports organization Fnatic very recently signed a deal worth US$15 million. The agreement, which designates as London-headquartered Fnatic's inaugural global cryptocurrency partner, signals the company's first partnership in competitive gaming. This is remarkable not only because of the awareness it generated but also of the way it changed the way the organization engages and communicates with its audience.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
I've been working as a consultant in esports for over four years and working in-house for about a year now. I believe that the level of innovation by companies, teams and leagues surpasses that of any other industry.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
In February of 2020, I was part of a team that was pitching a proposal for an esports tournament and festival that was happening in Saudi. We had just started hearing about Covid-19 with no idea of the actual impact it would have on borders. We decided to include a suggestion to organize the event online, which at the time was unimaginable. Today, that event is the world’s largest charitable esports tournament.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
No one person in particular. There are so many examples that I am in awe of.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
I think it’s important to not be in a state where you are focused on delivery. That is detrimental to creativity. Moving away from the office into my desk at home works best for me. Then I would rehash my thoughts with my colleagues. I also look at examples of what other people have done. Learning from others is the greatest source of creativity.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
I would always say, plan the basics. Once that is out of the way, now it's time to be creative. Let go of the process and focus on how to send a message to your audience.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Still working in communications consulting.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
Thinking Fast And Slow is a great book that I always refer people to. It gives me great insight on how people react to external influence.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
Mornings are my favourite. I feel energized and enjoy the brightness of the sunlight through the window. That combined with the smell of coffee makes me want to open up my laptop and just start writing.