Advertising, PR & Marketing
Factors to consider when thinking about a career in Advertising, PR and Marketing:
- opportunities in PR and Advertising exist in large agencies – predominantly based in London, or in small to medium sized agencies in the majority of other towns and cities.
- also possible to work for an in house PR function.
- entry may be through a relevant degree or postgraduate study or simply by making contacts and building up work experience on your CV.
- opportunities in Marketing are rather more likely to be in-house but it is also possible to be employed by an agency.
- some graduate management trainee schemes will offer marketing roles.
- other entry points include possession of a relevant first degree or postgraduate qualification or through gaining work experience in a marketing role.
Each section below gives you links to information on specific career areas – work activities, related professional bodies, employers/job search and other relevant information.
Advertising is about persuading the target audience to buy a product/service. The marketing team may conduct market research into the likely target audience. Advertising professionals develop a strategy regarding where to place the advert and produce creative concepts using design and copywriting skills. Campaigns may make use of television, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, direct mail and of course mobile and online platforms.
Most advertising professionals are employed in agencies. The biggest agencies are concentrated in and around London with some regional offices across the UK. Small and medium sized advertising agencies are present in most towns and cities.
VIDEO: Advertising overview
Types of jobs
- The Account Manager or Account Executive acts as the link between the agency and the client and liaises closely with other agency staff to coordinate the advertising campaign. They are at the hub of ensuring that ideas are communicated between all parties and administrative work is completed according to schedule and budget. Account Managers need to have excellent interpersonal skills as they are the ‘face’ of the agency who goes out to meet the client and make an initial pitch to them. They also need to thrive on pressure and deadlines as they liaise with all parties to get things done.
- The Account Planner analyses market research and other data to identify the best target audiences for an advertisement. They will use their insights into consumer behaviours, needs and aspirations in order to produce a strategy for the client and will work closely with the creative team in the agency to hone the creative idea. Analysis and research skills are key in this role.
- The Creative Team consists of the Art Director and the Copywriter. They will respond to the creative brief produced by the account manager and account planner by creating visual and written/ verbal ideas. For the Copywriter this could be a script or catch phrase for a TV ad script; a print media strapline or words for a website or a twitter thread. For the Art Director it will involve creating the visual mood and message to convey the creative idea. The Art Director will usually have come from and art school background whilst the copywriter must be able to create clear, persuasive and original copy.
- The Media Buyer or Planner needs strong negotiating skills as the work involves obtaining the best price to place the ad where it will be seen by the largest audience. This involves liaising with television, radio, press, internet companies, billboard companies and so on.
- Production or Creative Services ensure that the ad gets made and paid for on time and within budget. This involves roles such as Creative Services Manager, TV production, Studio Management, Print Production.
Which role will suit me best?
Gaining work experience and shadowing some of the above roles first hand is the best way to explore the best fit. However the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) has devised an excellent on-line questionnaire to help you decide.
- Most of the graduate opportunities in advertising are for Trainee/Junior Account Managers. Many large agencies run training schemes for graduates which are an excellent entry point, though extremely competitive – examples include AMV BBDO, M&C Saatchi, Ogilvy. A list of graduate schemes is available on the IPA website.
- Many large companies employ their own ‘in house’ Media Planners and Buyers. Junior roles may be available.
- Aside from the graduate entry schemes with the larger agencies, most employers do not advertise junior entry point jobs so a speculative approach is necessary. A targeted application using a focused, attention-grabbing CV and covering letter may work, but make sure you have thoroughly researched the advertising profession generally and the organisation you wish to work for, before applying. The IPA has a list of agency members listed on its website, including relevant contact details.
- Some graduates choose to build up relevant experience in a Media Sales role selling billboard and ad space.
- For Creatives, entry is different and occurs through developing your ‘book’ (a portfolio of your previous work) and getting it critiqued by advertising agencies. This involves cold-calling, emailing and physically taking your book to the agencies. If an agency likes your book they may offer you an opportunity. In London it’s common for the Creatives (ie art director and copywriter) to pair up together before approaching a large agency.
Agencies will expect to see that you have an interest in the industry and have gained relevant work experience.
- Check the work experience section of our intranet pages as there may occasionally be media-related opportunities advertised there. To see current opportunities log into your Careers Account and search for placements with “Cardiff University Experience Works”
- Some larger agencies offer formal work experience/summer internship programmes. The IPA website lists details of opportunities – early application is advised.
- Students of STEM subjects and BAME students should check out the IPA’s new 8-10 week paid internship programme aimed at penultimate and final year undergraduate students.
- Outside the formal schemes relevant experience can include vacation work, placements or job shadowing. A speculative approach will be needed to contact relevant employers – the IPA website includes an Agency List which is a useful starting point.
- Work experience in a commercial context is a useful alternative for those finding it difficult to secure an advertising placement.
- Undertaking a period of voluntary work is another way of gaining valuable experience.
- The New Blood Academy, a two-week intensive training course for new talent offers candidates mentoring and the opportunity to gain paid internships in the industry is provided by the D&AD.
Tips for speculative applications
- Research your target agencies thoroughly
- Follow the organisation’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, research the website and use Linked In use to make contact with relevant professionals. Find out as much as possible about current clients and creative work.
- Familiarise yourself with the agency’s current ad campaigns and form opinions about these and other advertising campaigns that you admire. Why do you like them? Why do you think they are they effective (or not)? How would you develop this campaign?
- Address your email/letter to a named individual (not Dear sir/madam) – phone up to ask if it’s not clear who that person it. Check all spellings – in this competitive sector mistakes will fast track your application to the bin.
- Begin by showing that you have done your research on the company and know what they do, who their clients are etc. For example: ‘I loved the way your recent campaign for [XX brand] did XX.
- Never ask what an advertising agency can do for you – tell them what you can do for them – ie the skills/experience and ideas you can offer.
- Whilst it’s tempting to try to catch the eye with unconventional or creative CV, be careful – an unconventional approach isn’t appreciated by everybody.
- For help with CVs and speculative letters – use the Advice A-Z CVs & Cover letters, come to a masterclass at 51a Park Place (book via the Careers account app) or a workshop in you School and then get your CV checked (book an appointment via the Careers Account app or come to drop-in. Also see The Creative CV Guide – a detailed guide to creative CVs featuring lots of different formats by UCA London and University College Falmouth.
Top tips whilst at university
- Develop your on-line presence with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Follow firms and agencies you admire. Make sure your content looks more professional than party – employers will check!
- Set up a blog or portfolio eg using WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr. You could blog about brands, campaigns, adverts to demonstrate your interest in the sector.
- Look out for relevant experience with student societies eg publicity work. Get involved in innovative fundraising campaigns for charities.
- Register with the University Job Shop and register for work placements with Careers & Employability. Don’t limit your search to job titles with ‘Advertising’ in them: sales, marketing and public relations work experience will help you develop relevant skills for advertising.
- Take every opportunity on campus to network – attend relevant careers talks, visit careers fairs and engage with guest speakers. This is a good way to start building up your contacts. See Careers & Employability intranet pages and search Fairs and Events for details of upcoming events such as talks on careers in the media covering journalism, broadcasting, publishing and public relations. Social networking sites make it easier than before to network with advertising professionals.
Public Relations (PR)
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations describes PR as follows:‘Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Every organisation, whether it’s a business, profession, public service or charity, depends on its reputation for survival and success. Customers, employees, investors, journalists and regulators all form opinions about the organisations they deal with. Public relations professionals make sure this opinion is positive. They do this through media relations and lobbying, speaking at conferences, online viral campaigns, sponsorship and more’.
- PR involves the presentation of information from a business or agency to an audience such as the general public, a local community, journalists, shareholders, politicians and so on.
- PR work is carried out both in-house and by external agencies. The aim is to create a positive public image of an organisation through generating good media coverage. It includes branding, producing publications, press-releases and online presence as well as crisis management.
- PR is a fast growing profession in the UK at present, partly due to the increase in on-line media over recent years. Companies increasingly need PR help to manage their online presence.
- PR professionals need to keep up to date with digital media and particularly social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Blogging. Other work includes briefing or issuing statements to journalists; organising press conferences; acting as a spokesperson or briefing others to do so; organising and attending events; producing corporate publications such as promotional literature, in-house magazines and websites. Some PR professionals specialise in internal communications through staff intranet sites.
VIDEO: PR overview
The majority of PR jobs are in PR consultancies, but opportunities also exist in in-house departments; full service marketing agencies, voluntary organisations; professional associations and political consultancies.
Large consultancies are mainly based in London but most towns and cities such as Cardiff will have small to medium sized agencies.
- PR professionals work in many sectors including business, charities, finance, healthcare, fashion, entertainment, public affairs, sport and technology. Will Agency or in- house suit you best?
- PR agencies generally work with several clients on a variety of campaigns that can offer different roles and opportunities. This can provide very good work experience because you might find yourself working on several projects in just one day – ideal if you like new challenges.
- If you would rather dedicate yourself to particular types of campaign you may prefer to work in-house for a big company where you focus on their specific projects. Note that even if you plan to build your career in house, such positions often require previous PR experience, so agencies tend to be a good place to start.
You will need creativity, strong communication and presentation skills; good interpersonal skills; project management skills; awareness of current affairs and economic issues which may affect organisations; interest in digital and social media. The work sometimes has an aura of being glamorous but in reality it can often involve long hours to meet a deadline and it is important to be able to work under pressure.
It’s vital that you are sociable and able to network with people, creating close working relationships with other PR professionals and clients.
Social media has made this much easier. LinkedIn is now a major resource through which you can follow and interact with people – Make sure you set up your own professional profile (attend one of our LinkedIn Masterclasses if you need help with this) join PR discussion groups (contributing to the discussion when you can) connect with relevant employers and get yourself known. Twitter and Facebook to follow leaders in the PR industry and join relevant Facebook groups to interact with others in your chosen area.
- Graduate Schemes: Some of the large agencies may offer graduate schemes and the most common job titles are Trainee/Junior/Assistant Account Executive. These schemes may be offered as early as October and November of the year prior to when you graduate. . They will typically involve a very competitive recruitment process, often including assessment centres. The CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) website will carry details of the large agencies such as Weber-Shandwick, Chime Communications, Edelman, Fleishman Hillard.
- Other entry points to consider: Small to medium sized agencies, such as are found in Cardiff, will not offer formal graduate schemes but may take on graduates who have built up some work experience with them into trainee PR officer roles. Other entry points may arise through in-house PR departments as Publicity Assistants or Press Officers or in the public sector as Assistant Information Officers. PR has often recruited from people with backgrounds in journalism and marketing, but may also be interested in recruits with in-depth knowledge of areas such as law or business.
- Post graduate qualifications are not essential but may be helpful. For example, Cardiff University offers a highly regarded MA in International PR and Global Communications and Manchester Metropolitan offers an MSc in Public Relations. Choose a course that is accredited by the CIPR.
Starting salaries in this industry may be quite modest but prospects in the longer term are good for people who show talent with opportunities to progress to Account Executive, Senior Account Executive or Account Manager within a few years.
Building up evidence of your interest in and commitment to a career in PR is essential. Try to gain direct observation or experience in a PR firm whilst a student. Information and guidelines for internships in PR are available at http://www.prca.org.uk/intern_campaign – the PRCA website also includes a list of consultancies and in-house teams which have committed to paying their interns at least the National Minimum Wage.
As a first step, register with our Work Experience team to access information on local short term unpaid work placements, and paid summer placements.
The Taylor Bennett Foundation may be of interest as it offers 8-10 week placements to help ethnic minority students gain experience in the PR industry
The majority of work experience opportunities in this sector are not advertised. The onus lies with applicants to network and to contact companies themselves – the same skills that will be required when working in this industry. To identify PR companies for speculative applications use the ‘Hollis UK Public Relations Annual’ (available in the Bute Library) which lists PR agencies throughout the UK. For local firms in Cardiff (or any other specific town you are interested in) the Yellow pages online may be helpful at www.yell.com
Tops tips whilst at university
- Get involved in creating publicity and organising events for student societies
- Volunteer! Eg help a local charity with planning events and press releases – remember to keep a record of anything you have organised or written.
- Develop and demonstrate your writing skills through involvement in your student newspaper and by blogging.
- Join the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) at a reduced student rate. This will give you access to training and networking events and also to register on their Job Shop for work experience placements.
- Get a junior role in a PR consultancy or in-house PR department eg as a PR assistant, administrative assistant, receptionist. This will give you an insight into how the industry works
- Begin to keep up to date with what is happening in the world of PR through periodicals and on-line journals such as ‘PR week.’
Tips for CVs and covering letters
- If contacting a PR firm directly for work experience, by letter or e-mail, always try to identify a named person to address (not ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.)
- Begin your letter with a paragraph showing that you understand the work of that particular agency and saying why you are interested in them. Then say a little about yourself and what you can do for them – as opposed to what they can do for you.
- For help with CVs and speculative letters, collect our free CV booklet from the Careers & Employability Centre or download it from careercentral.cardiff.ac.uk. Also see The Creative CV Guide – a detailed guide to creative CVs featuring lots of different formats by UCA London and University College Falmouth
Marketing covers a wide variety of work – there are many different types of customer and industry so marketers can enjoy working across many different employment sectors.
To ensure a business runs smoothly and successfully, marketers have to work closely with practically every other function in a company. They have to understand the products or services the company produces and appreciate what is required in terms of resources such as human, financial and equipment, to develop and promote existing products and add new products to the company portfolio.
The marketer has to discuss with and inform the rest of the company departments, stakeholders and directors about societal trends, consumer behaviour, and competitors’ activities. Once the key facts have been found, a marketer then has to lay viable plans to create promotional campaigns, new products and services within budgets, ensuring that they will satisfy customers and stakeholders alike. Marketing is a multifaceted task, but without the marketing function most businesses would struggle to survive.
Types of jobs
Often the best place to start in marketing is in a company that operates a good, if not complete, marketing mix. By doing so, a graduate can really experience first-hand the way marketing works from research to product development to communication and promotion through to sales support and customer service. This is an excellent way to gain a greater understanding and to discover which area suits your skill set and personality best.
There are also immense benefits for specialising in marketing functions such as brand management, product development and communications.
- Marketing communications – creating and managing the message to customers, encompasses many of the other roles in marketing such as branding, advertising and PR. The right image and message is crucially important to the way the individual or company successfully sells itself to the world.
- Brand management – very closely linked to advertising in many ways. It is all about ownership and constantly looking for ways to improve the brands position in the market place. Within this role there will be interaction with designers, production teams, researchers and product managers.
- Direct marketing - the major growth in this area is in database marketing to reach customers directly, using databases as both a research and analysis tool to understand customers better and then to promote a product or service.
- E-marketing (internet/digital marketing) – using social media to promote a company’s product or service.
- Market research and analysis - in increasingly competitive markets, collecting and analysing data is fundamental for targeting audiences and develop services. Decisions coming from market research can range from the implementation of new promotional activities to the expansion/contraction of a work force.
- Product marketing and product management – product management deals with the internal organisation of a company’s product, whereas product marketing deals with the external promotion of a product.
- PR – see section above.
- Event organiser/management - a strategic marketing tool to increase exposure and gain clients/customers, covers targeting of your audience as well as the planning and coordinating of the event.
As a graduate, there are three distinct avenues open to you:
- Graduate training schemes - found in large and (occasionally) small organisations. Opportunities exist within the private and public sectors, and include the financial, consumer and information technology industries, and to a lesser extent, not-for-profit organisations such as charities and higher education institutions. As marketing has become one of the most popular career choices for graduates, the following degree subjects may be particularly useful: Marketing, Communications, Business/Management and Information Systems though the vast majority of organisations will indeed accept any degree discipline. In sales promotion, graduates are being recruited direct from universities. Marketing, business and economics degrees, plus some marketing or commercial work experience are always helpful. There are now over 300 sales promotion agencies, many of which have comprehensive in-house training programmes. Most encourage graduate employees to attend courses run by the ISP Education Committee. The ISP Certificate and the ISP Diploma are well recognised throughout the marketing industry.
- Further study – the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and Institute of Sales Promotion (ISP) offer recognised postgraduate qualifications. The CIM qualifications usually take one year to complete and the ones to consider are the Professional Diploma in Marketing. This is for marketers concerned with managing the marketing process at an operational level and looking to progress into marketing management, and the Professional Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing, This is for those who have already gained significant knowledge and/or experience in marketing. This qualification focuses on the strategic aspect of marketing management.
- Non-graduate roles – To help get your foot on the ladder apply for administrative or support roles within the industry. In some lower level roles you will still be encouraged to follow professional training qualifications once you are in post.
Marketing is an incredibly competitive sector and recruiters will want to know what you understand about the industry and why you think you are suited to it. These answers are always best addressed by being able to refer to meaningful work experience. However, do remember that any work experience is of value, whether related to marketing or not. The Chartered Institute of Marketing have a Career Partner Scheme which has been developed to support students and recent graduates who are trying to break into the marketing industry. Registration is free of charge.
Speculative approaches – wherever you will be in the vacation, think about local employers and organisations and contact them with regard to work experience or work shadowing. Use any contacts that you may have and talk to those who are already working within sales and marketing. Activities such as this will help make your final job applications stand out. Consider contacting the CIM and the ISP to help make some contacts
You can also develop appropriate skills whilst at university by taking on positions of responsibility, such as organising people, events and finances, whether in a voluntary or paid capacity. Remember, business awareness and management skills are actively sought after by employers, as are good communication skills, IT and numeracy, interpersonal skills, integrity and approachability, influencing and negotiating skills.
Many organisations visit the University to make presentations and attend recruitment events throughout the year. Keep an eye on and notice boards in your department noticeboard and our Fairs and Events page in the Intranet or log into the Careers Account app for details. The Autumn Careers Information & Recruitment Event and the Business, Finance & Banking Careers Fair, which take place every October are an excellent opportunity to meet employers and discuss graduate training and employment prospects.
Our top picks are
- Adbrands – company profiles of advertisers, brands and agencies (currently doesn’t need a subscription)
- Adforum – news/articles
- AdMISSION – the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s (IPA) careers site, also look at their Diagonal Thinking Self-assessment Test and their article the advertising process
- CIPR Careers Advice – includes a Careers in Public Relations guide (pdf)
- Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM)
- Creative Skillset – advertising and marketing communications
- Creative Review – for news
- Employability – from the Institute of Direct & Digital Marketing
- get into advertising - useful careers information from Andrea Neidle, advertising
lecturer, consultant, copywriter and author
- History of Advertising Trust
- National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS) – advice/careers support for those working in advertising & media
- Planner Sphere – wiki for account planning, strategy and insight
- Pressat – Top tips on how to bag your first job in Public Relations!
- PRmoment – ‘exploring the evolution of PR’
- Prospects.ac.uk Marketing, advertising and PR
- TARGETjobs Marketing, advertising and PR - sector information
- World Advertising Research Centre – news, case studies and articles relevant to the industry
- Book: How to Get into Advertising – available at Careers and Employability, 51a Park Place
Employers and vacancy sources: