In Edition #223 of Industry Insider we had a chat with David Scriven, Partnerships Director at the award-winning digital content agency Little Dot Studios about his career in sport so far…
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I’m David Scriven and I’m a Partnerships Director at Little Dot Sport, award-winning digital content agency and media network Little Dot Studios’ specialist sport label. I work predominantly with The FA across the FA Cup, Women’s Super League and England teams.
I’ve been with Little Dot Sport since September 2020, having previously worked for Team GB across their Digital Partnerships in the build-up to the (postponed) Tokyo Olympics. Before that, I enjoyed 14 years in football at Queens Park Rangers and Southend United.
What do you do in your current role?
Primarily it’s to manage the relationships with clients and ensure we are pushing them strategically and delivering against their wider objectives. I lead teams within the agency working across those partnerships, managing channels, and creating content.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
We work with a diverse range of clients who all have varied needs and objectives. There’s probably not a major sporting event that takes place around the world that we don’t have some level of involvement in so that means there is so much variety which is exciting.
That could mean client check-ins, creating strategies, or providing direction through insights. There’s a fair bit of planning that goes on behind the scenes also, though personally my favourite part is feeding into the ideation process. Making cool content is the best part of our job and I’m fortunate to work with some brilliantly creative people who amaze me every day with their talents.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
Probably like most people who work in this industry, I’m a huge sports fan. I was a teenager around the time of the dot-com boom and decided to start a fan website around my football team Southend United in my spare time.
Nothing like that existed at the time and it quickly grew over the years that followed. I’d always hoped I could somehow turn that passion into a career. This pre-dated social media and at the same time Football Clubs were finding their feet online via the doomed NTL/ITV Digital joint venture and I was offered the chance to work for Southend.
Alongside their website I had to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, so I looked after print publications and also acted as their press officer before introducing social media as it started to take off. I was a one-man band for large parts, working every hour but I don’t think I could have asked for a better grounding.
In 2012 I took the opportunity to join QPR – who were in the Premier League at the time – to work across their digital content and products. It was the era when they were signing World Cup winners so as you’d imagine there was never a dull moment. We had a really good team across content but given their size QPR was quite innovative in the digital space and so I’d have the opportunity to produce live weekly shows and create native digital magazines before a lot of the bigger teams had moved into that space. We won the Sports Industry Award for Best Use of Social in 2014 and had lots of other wins along the way.
After six years at Loftus Road, I got the opportunity to join Team GB. It was very different to football, where you go from having the regularity of Saturday/Tues/Saturday fixtures to trying to remain relevant when your marquee event only happens every two years. I helped define their owned channels and then moved into digital partnerships geared towards activating at Tokyo 2020 the following year. The pandemic struck and world sport was put on hold which unfortunately meant that the climate had changed and I wasn’t able to deliver the execution but the foundations had been put in place for 12 months later in Japan.
After 15 years within sports teams and federations, I’d worked with several agencies and was keen to experience that myself. The opportunity came to join an award-winning team like Little Dot and I’m now very fortunate to work with some amazing clients every day.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Creating a collaborative relationship. I want my teams to be viewed as an extension of the client’s team, not an agency that the client just pushes stuff to. I want to be in a partnership with my clients, for them to lean on us for our expertise and feel they can turn to me at any time for guidance.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
I failed my French GCSE! Obviously, it’s a long time ago now but I thought I knew it all at the time and I just couldn’t see the point of it so didn’t take it seriously. Now I’d love to be able to speak a second language fluently, it could open so many doors and opportunities.
I try to be open-minded to everything now, regardless of whether you view it as important at that moment in time or you’re sceptical about something, there’s always something you can learn.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
Social media platforms are going through quite a bit of change and restructuring currently. Things seem to be changing by the day and so strategies and approaches are evolving quite quickly to keep up. It will be interesting to see where it lands but as always change usually represents opportunity and those rights holders who can embrace that, dissect it, and then harness it will be those that capitalise.
There’s a lot of noise around AI, VR, NFTs, etc, and more. Usually, the first implementations of new technologies are rarely long-term uses and so I’m excited to see how the industry takes these new possibilities and runs with them. I don’t believe they will replace certain roles just that those roles will adapt over time to harness these new tools.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
Pitching and RFPs! It’s a bit of a necessary evil but there feels like there should be a better way to decide who you want to partner with.
I don’t think people sometimes appreciate how much work goes into creating a response to a brief, how many hours and various skill sets go into creating something bespoke to each brief. Sometimes you can be up against lots of different agencies so the odds are stacked. It can sometimes be frustrating not getting feedback or sometimes even a response but equally when you do win one you can take a lot of satisfaction from that.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I’ve got two boys who keep me on my toes and a cockerpoo who thinks he’s a third child so that keeps me busy. My children are both starting to get into football and basketball which is great to see and so I’m looking forward to doing more of that with them.
I like films and travelling and when I can just attend sporting events in a non-work capacity, not worrying about whether we’re hitting all the right notes, it’s satisfying.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Get as much experience as you can and open your eyes to all opportunities. Being an expert in something is the end goal but I do find in this industry that being able to do a little of a lot is an advantage and will equip you well to pivot as the industry continues to evolve.
How to connect with David Scriven…
You can follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/dmscriven) and connect with me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-scriven/). For more information about Little Dot Sport give us a following on Twitter and LinkedIn (https://twitter.com/LittleDotSport & https://www.linkedin.com/company/little-dot-studios-limited/)
Thanks for reading our chat with David Scriven! If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.