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Overview of Advertising & Public Relations: What You Need To Know
Each year, companies big and small will spend many billions of dollars to encourage us to buy their goods or services.
When you crave pizza, do you think Domino's? Perhaps you listen to your old MP3 player and wonder, "maybe music does sound better if it's from iTunes?"
Each year, companies big and small will spend many billions of dollars to encourage us to buy their goods or services. And every day, there are new products being created as companies seek ways to tap new markets and grow.
According the U.S. Department of Labor, this battle for our hearts, minds and wallets means demand will continue for advertising and public relations firms, and these agencies, in turn, will be hungry for new talent as the economy continues to grow. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts above average growth in this sector at least through 2012.
These can be tough jobs to land, though, because the advertising business is seen as a glamorous, fast-paced, high profile profession with lots of room for advancement, the ability to strike out on one's own, and solid earning potential that comes with experience.
On the Job
The basic goals for any advertising or public relations agency (commonly referred to as a PR firm) is to help clients market their products, develop brand awareness and broadcast their message to targeted audiences.
In the case of advertising agencies, this is done by developing ad campaigns that are then placed in newspapers, broadcast by television or radio stations, or appear on corporate or other online Web sites. Advertisements can range from simple radio spots or small newspaper ads to elaborate campaigns such as those aired during the Super Bowl, considered to be the top venue for creating a presence with consumers.
Public relations firms often "pitch" (suggest stories to) reporters and other media professionals to generate articles or programs about their clients. They attempt to have clients identified as industry experts, or they might lobby on their behalf with public officials over issues that could affect their livelihoods.
Throughout the industry -- sometimes described as being a curious mix of Hollywood and Wall Street -- a bachelor's degree tends to be the minimum requirement, with a MBA desirable for some jobs such as market researcher and other more business-focused positions.
Common degrees for an account executive would be a bachelor's in a liberal arts discipline such as English, communications, journalism, philosophy, and political science. Creative careers might require a degree in graphics arts, while finance and business majors can also find a niche in the business office at most agencies. Some firms that concentrate on the life sciences or technology could be on the lookout for graduates with specific science or engineering degrees.
In general, notes the Department of Labor, internships can pay off when it comes time to circulate the resume.
Desired experience runs the gamut from writing and artistic talent to hardcore business strategy and sales. The common need, though, is for strong communications skills, the ability to work with others on a team, and good client relation instincts. Solid computer skills are also a must.
Where's the Work
The largest concentration of agencies is found along the two coasts, in California and New York, although it is common for these firms to also have offices in many other U.S. cities, and increasingly in markets worldwide. While the industry historically was dominated by larger firms, the push to drive down costs has created markets for smaller, more nimble agencies. Turnover in the industry, where layoffs can come frequently with the loss of accounts, has also encouraged individuals to go off on their own, creating many employment opportunities at these smaller companies.
The nature of the media business has also had an impact on the industry, with many shops now offering a range of advertising, public relations, crisis management and investor relations services. One benefit of working for such an agency would be exposure to the many aspects of the business.
For those who can tolerate sometimes tumultuous work environments, demanding clients and tight deadlines, those entering the advertising world will find many outlets for strategic thinking, work with creative colleagues and discover opportunities to make an impact at the leading edge of a wide variety of industries.
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