INDUSTRY GUIDE: An Introduction to Marketing, Advertising & PR

1. Industry Overview

As business, technology and media has become globalized, so has marketing, advertising and PR. The ability to reach people is greater than ever, meaning that the opportunity to showcase, promote and sell a product is to. For this reason, each have become multi-billion dollar industries in their own right.

Working within the marketing, advertising and public relations industry involves promoting a product, service or idea. The work is often challenging and fast-paced and will involve a variety of responsibilities.

Many organizations have marketing, advertising and PR departments, meaning that roles can be found in both the private and public sectors, ranging from the financial, retailing and media industries to voluntary and public sector organizations.

Company types: What do they do? Who do they do it for? And why do they do it

  • Consultancy - Marketing, advertising and PR consultancies provide advice to help you develop a strategy. They review your existing activities and use their experience to make recommendations to improve your performance in the market.

  • Market Research – Market research firms provide information to help clients make decisions on their marketing, advertising and PR efforts. They conduct research about the size of the market for a product you may be developing, analyze the competition you would face if you entered a specific sector, and provide you with reports on factors, such as attitudes toward your company, that can help you plan public relations campaigns.

  • Digital - Digital companies provide services that help firms make use of the Internet or social media in your marketing, advertising and PR efforts. They can help companies develop or improve their website or launch an e-commerce service. Such firms may advise on ways to use social media to communicate and interact with customers and prospects, and help to build new technology into existing products.

  • Creative agencies - These are the teams that produce original and innovative campaigns. A client that contracts a creative advertising agency may also have to contract another agency to carry out various administrative functions.

  • PR agencies – Although different PR agencies will focus on different sectors, their common aim is usually persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view concerning it, its leadership, products, or political decisions. PR agencies may be commissioned or PR professionals may operate in-house at larger organizations.

2. The Job Market

Market outlook: Who's hiring?

The UK advertising sector grosses over £13.3bn per year. The contribution of advertising to the national economy (“value-added”) is £2.9bn. Over 75,000 people work in the advertising industry within London.

The marketing, advertising and public relations industry employs over 60,000 people in New York City and there are around 2,600 industry establishments in the Big Apple. New York City firms take in around $13bn in revenue each year – 14% of total US revenues in the sector. Roughly 35,000 people work in the marketing, advertising and PR sectors in Los Angeles.

Roles, career paths, earnings and work-life balance: What can I do?

  • Account Director: In charge of the accounts team, ensures projects runs on time and to budget and sources new clients. This position requires about five years of agency experience and a history of working with blue chip clients.

  • Account Executive: Liaise with your own team and other teams within the agency to ensure the smooth running of a client's account. As you gain more experience in this entry-level position an Account

Executive may have contact with clients.

  • Account Manager: Manages entire accounts to ensure campaigns are delivered on time, on budget and to the client's requirements. Tends to require 2-3 years of agency experience.

  • Client Services Manager: Ensures all aspects of the client interaction is fruitful and profitable. They work closely with designated clients to ensure the development of marketing strategies and brand promotion. With careful management they are also able to drive high profit for the agency.

  • Communications Planner: Uses consumer data to develop marketing strategies from analysis of consumer behaviors and characteristics. They contribute to creating an effective marketing plan.

  • Marketing Manager: Looks after the strategic direction of all marketing activities in the company, ensuring the product matches the brand.

  • Social Media Strategist: They have to understand how consumers interact with social platforms. It is essential that they understand how new technologies shape the user experience online. They craft ideas which are social by design and engage with online consumers.

  • Creative: Creatives are generally hired in pairs — a copywriter and an art director. They take the client brief and work with it to invent ideas to address the brand's business problems. From here, they work with media planners/buyers and the production department in order to turn those ideas into a reality.

Specific tasks depend on the market in which you are involved, but may include:

  • Liaising and networking with a range of stakeholders including customers, colleagues, suppliers and partner organizations to decide on the overall direction and finer points of an advertising, marketing or PR campaign.
  • Communicating with target audiences and managing customer relationships
  • Sourcing advertising opportunities and placing adverts in across a variety of media platforms
  • Planning, designing and producing materials, including television adverts, print mock-ups, posters, flyers, newsletters, e-newsletters etc.
  • Writing compelling copy and proofreading colleague’s work to ensure consistency and accuracy
  • Liaising with designers and printers
  • Organizing photo shoots
  • Arranging the effective distribution of materials
  • Maintaining and updating customer databases
  • Organizing and attending events such as conferences, seminars, receptions and exhibitions
  • Sourcing and securing sponsorship
  • Conducting market research
  • Evaluating and helping to evolve existing campaigns
  • Monitoring competitor activity
  • Planning new ways to position a company or brand in front of audiences


Salaries can range from $30 - $100K+ depending on position, experience and specific company. The US National Average industry salary is $60k

A typical career path may look like so:

  • Assistant
  • Executive
  • Supervisor
  • Manager
  • Director

Work/life balance

Work/life balance: 2/5

Work/life balance entirely depends on the industry that you focus on, your clients and the time of year. You might expect additional perks with a client-facing business.

Academic, hard and soft skills: What do I need?

You will need to show:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills. You will be dealing with people from different departments, backgrounds and countries and working together to complete projects.

  • The capacity to work under pressure. Deadlines are a large part of the industry and when the pressure is on you’ll need to perform.

  • Creative skills. Having an idea is one thing, bringing it to life and showing the world is another. You’ll need to be able to think outside of the box and conjure up fresh concepts regularly.

  • Oral and written skills. You’ll need to be skilled at writing copy, manipulating words and able to present and explain ideas to your colleagues.

  • Commercial awareness. You constantly need to be ahead of the curve and aware of current commercial trends. Knowing what makes businesses and people tick could be the key to a successful campaign.

  • IT literacy. The marketing, advertising and PR industries are becoming increasingly intertwined with technology meaning that proficiency with programs such as Photoshop and InDesign are highly sought after.

3. Industry Knowledge: Things you should know

Terminology: What terms, phrases and concepts should I know?

  • Campaign metrics and research - viewing and diagnosing the results of a specific campaign

  • Content marketing - creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a target audience

  • Direct marketing - selling or promoting products or services directly to the public/target market

  • Mobile marketing - marketing and promotion through cell phones and other mobile and multi-media devices

  • Product pricing - assigning a price to a product or service that fits the current market and target audience

  • Sales strategy - plan on how to go about selling products and services to increase profits

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) - Internet business model in which a company places an advertisement on a website and pays for every time the ad is clicked by a user

  • Sales promotion - promotional marketing activities undertaken to boost sales

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - maximizing numbers of website visitors by ensuring that a website appears as high as possible within search engine results

  • Community involvement - contributing to the betterment of the surrounding community, including corporate social responsibility

  • Customer support - providing help and support to ensure customer satisfaction with a product or service

  • Public affairs - influencing public policy that may impact client’s business operations while building and maintaining strong, positive relationships with stakeholders

  • Database management and analysis - compiling and utilizing information to manage and improve a product or service

  • Media planning - sourcing and selecting optimal media platforms for a client’s brand or product

  • Web design and development - creation and improvement of websites and general online presence

  • Copywriting - purposefully written content conveyed through online media or print material

  • Event management - planning and organization of public and private events

Hot topics: What topical happenings should I be able to discuss?

3D: Virtual reality drops people inside their favorite TV show, provides an on-the-ground preview of their next vacation, or puts them behind the wheel of their next car. Customer experience is priority number one and—although it’s still evolving—3D technology is poised to move from novelty to mainstream. It will start most heavily in the gaming industry, but as the technology to create and consume becomes more accessible, smart marketers will look for ways to bring their products to virtual life.

Video and Live Streaming: If you want to engage with millennials, video is a must-have marketing tactic; they prefer to find entertainment and education on YouTube over conventional channels like television. Snapchat, YouTube, gifs, Vine, and more are being consumed at a rapid rate. Streaming video takes this to the next level, and platforms like Periscope and Blab have put interactive live video into the hands of anyone with a smartphone. The next year will see video continue to shine and streaming move to the forefront of marketing, with innovative new campaigns that allow consumers to be the stars.

Native Advertising: Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. For example, sponsored advertisements on Facebook and Instagram. Native advertising is extremely successful, especially compared to old forms of paid advertising such as banner ads. In fact, native ads are seen by 25% more consumers, and have registered an 18% higher lift in purchase intent than banner ads, making them the hottest choice for online advertisers.

4. Resume & Interview Preparation: Things you should do

Resume content: How can I make my skills, experiences and interests count?

Joining societies such as advertising, marketing and PR clubs are excellent ways of showing that you are passionate about your chosen industry. They are also good ways of networking with peers and society guests. You never know who you may end up working with one day!

Examples of your writing and creative skills are also appealing for potential employers. An online portfolio is another great way of showing that you are actively involved in furthering your skills and pursuing a career in the sector. Mock campaigns for real-life businesses can be very powerful ways of showing that you are serious about your sector.

Social media is a modern way for employers to check out candidates before they have even spoken with them. Make sure that you share relevant content to your chosen industry and engage in debate surrounding hot topics. Maintaining a blog will also be a resume highlight.

Interview preparation: What interview questions do I need to master?

  • Why marketing/advertising/PR?
  • Do you have any favorite marketing, advertising or PR campaigns and why? How did they help to strengthen a certain company’s brand?
  • Be prepared to think of a marketing campaign for both a fictional or real-life company of the interviewer’s choosing, and how and why it would be a success.
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • What do you know about our company and our work?

Must read blogs and websites:

IPA - A treasure trove of industry news, advice, explanation and dialogue around the advertising industry.

99U - Filled with tips on how to be a better employee and leader, daily insights on productivity and an inside look at what it’s like to work in a creative environment.

Marketoonist- Marketing and branding lessons portrayed via comics strips. Insightful and entertaining.

PR Daily- Exactly what it says on the tin. The day’s most notable public relations and communications news collated in one easy to navigate place.

Bulldog Reporter- PR news, views and resources written in a short, punchy style.

Must watch:

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011) - Documentarian Morgan Spurlock focuses his cameras on the world of advertising and product placement. The film itself was purposefully and entirely funded by corporate sponsorship.

What Women Want (2000) - Set in a Chicago advertising firm, this romantic fantasy stars Mel Gibson as a chauvinistic ad executive who gains the miraculous ability to read female minds. Putting his newfound power to use in the boardroom, Gibson designs a series of ad campaigns that capitalize on women’s hopes and fears. An interesting look at how advertising firms appeal to different sections of the public.

Jerry Maguire (1996) - From the immortal “Show Me the Money” lines to the disputes with other agents trying to steal his clients, Jerry Maguire is a lesson in hard work for your clients and the power of PR. Tom Cruise displays many transferable skills for those looking to make it in advertising, marketing or PR.