Discover the essential marketing skills to create a fulfilling career in this fast-paced and ever-evolving industry

The marketing, advertising, and public relations (PR) industry helps businesses connect with their customers.

Companies of all sizes need skilled professionals to create marketing strategies, and advertising campaigns, and manage public perception. It's a field that demands creativity, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace new technologies and trends.

What areas of marketing can I work in?

Marketing, advertising, and PR are essential tools for businesses to reach their target audience and build a strong reputation.

Marketing teams align a brand's offerings with the needs and desires of its customers, while advertising experts create eye-catching campaigns to promote products and services. PR professionals manage the brand's public image, ensuring positive coverage and handling any crisis that may arise. You could choose to work in:

  • account management and customer support
  • advertising
  • affiliate marketing
  • brand management
  • campaign metrics and research
  • communications and public relations (PR)
  • community involvement
  • content marketing
  • copywriting
  • database management and analysis
  • direct marketing
  • display advertising
  • distribution
  • email marketing
  • event management
  • market research
  • media planning
  • mobile marketing
  • product pricing
  • public affairs
  • sales promotion
  • sales strategy
  • search engine marketing (SEM) and pay-per-click (PPC)
  • search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • social media
  • web design and development.

The industry is broadly divided into two main categories: those who work in-house for a specific organisation and those who work for an agency.

In-house professionals are employed directly by a company to handle its marketing, advertising, and PR needs, while agency professionals are hired to provide specific services on a time-bound project. Just under a quarter of marketing professionals work on a freelance basis, offering their expertise to a variety of clients without being tied to a single organisation.

Advertising professionals almost always work for agencies, as advertising campaigns often require a team of specialists with diverse skill sets. PR professionals, on the other hand, are more evenly distributed between in-house and agency roles. Larger organisations often have their PR teams, while smaller companies may hire an agency to handle specific PR tasks or projects.

Traditionally, marketing, advertising, and PR jobs were concentrated in London, however, the rise of regional creative hubs has led to a more distributed workforce. MediaCityUK in Salford, home to the BBC, ITV, and many specialist agencies, has emerged as a significant hub for marketing, advertising, and PR in the North West of England.

For examples of specific roles in this sector, see jobs in marketing.

Who are the main graduate employers?

A range of employers, from retailers and pharmaceutical firms to charities, offer graduate-level opportunities.

Companies that offer marketing graduate schemes include:

  • Associated British Foods
  • Centrica
  • Diageo
  • Nestle
  • Newton Europe Virgin Media.

Well-known digital marketing, advertising and communications agencies include:

  • adam&eveDDB
  • BD Network
  • Leo Burnett
  • Mother
  • Publicis Worldwide UK
  • Saatchi & Saatchi
  • VCCP
  • WCRS
  • We Are Social.

Notable PR consultancies include:

  • BCW
  • Brunswick Group
  • Edelman
  • Finsbury Glover Hering
  • FleishmanHillard
  • Freuds
  • FTI Consulting
  • Grayling
  • Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K)
  • MHP

Global names in market research include:

  • B2B International
  • Growth from Knowledge (GfK)
  • Ipsos MORI
  • Kantar
  • Mintel
  • TNS.

Why work in marketing?

Graduates entering the marketing, advertising, and PR fields can expect to work primarily in an office setting, with occasional travel to meet clients or attend industry events. As part of a team, graduates will have the opportunity to work with cutting-edge digital communications technologies in a sector with high demand. While the work can be stressful, it is also incredibly rewarding.

Salaries vary depending on the role, location, and type of organisation, but graduates can expect to work alongside some of the most recognisable brands in the world.

With a variety of career options, graduates can choose to specialise in a particular area or transition into a related field. Freelancing is also a viable option, especially in PR, exhibitions, and copywriting.

To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions search marketing, advertising and PR job profiles.

How do I get a graduate job in marketing, advertising and PR?

This sector is highly competitive and requires a strong skill set. While vacancies are often open to all graduates, competition for roles can be intense. Many organisations actively promote their opportunities through university career services and careers fairs.

To gain a competitive edge in the job market, it's crucial to develop a strong portfolio, engage in networking, and demonstrate passion for the industry. Here are some websites that offer dedicated sections listing jobs in marketing, advertising, and PR:

Building up your network of contacts is also important, as smaller businesses and digital marketing agencies often rely on informal recruitment processes. Begin by checking company websites early in the academic year for information on their marketing graduate schemes.

Additionally, creating and maintaining a LinkedIn profile can expose you to a wider range of potential employers and opportunities. Many companies advertise graduate opportunities on social media, so regularly check the Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages of marketing-related organisations that interest you. Read our tips for using social media to job hunt.

Consider pursuing an internship during your degree to improve your chances of landing a job with a reputable employer. Gaining practical experience in a business environment can help enhance your candidacy for graduate roles as it will equip you with a diverse range of marketing skills.

For more tips on landing a role with a marketing or advertising agency, see how to get into digital marketing. Alternatively, get some tips on starting a career in PR.

Search graduate jobs in marketing, advertising and PR.

Which marketing skills do employers want?

Employers across the sector are seeking graduates with a strong understanding of digital marketing techniques, including social media management, search engine optimisation (SEO), and content marketing.

Analytical and numerical skills are also crucial for measuring campaign performance and making data-driven decisions. Employees must also have the confidence to pitch, present and justify their ideas and strategies to their clients.

Employers in the creative industries typically seek graduates with the following soft skills:

  • communication, interpersonal and teamwork skills
  • creativity, innovation, initiative and imagination
  • customer service skills
  • flexibility
  • negotiation skills
  • organisational skills.

How do I get marketing experience?

Breaking into the highly competitive marketing field can be challenging, particularly when it comes to securing marketing internships or placement opportunities. However, there are alternative strategies that can significantly improve your chances of landing a coveted position.

Marketing roles such as advertising copywriter or social media manager, revolve around producing compelling copy and campaigns. By actively growing your social media presence and showcasing your skills through an online portfolio, you can effectively demonstrate your marketing prowess and experience to prospective employers. Find out more about how to gain media work experience.

You should also consider taking a proactive approach to your job search. Demonstrate your passion and dedication to the field by sending speculative applications to companies you aspire to work for. Even if you're primarily seeking short-term work shadowing opportunities, these proactive efforts can open doors and enhance your visibility within the industry.

Do I need a marketing degree?

While degrees in marketing or related subjects are helpful, employers often place a higher value on specific skills, attributes, and any relevant work experience you may possess. Graduates from disciplines that demand creativity and exceptional communication skills often find themselves well-suited for marketing roles. However, digital skills are essential.

Holding a degree in digital marketing, advertising, PR, media, journalism, communications, or event management demonstrates a genuine interest in the industry and may prove advantageous for career progression. See marketing courses to discover ways to get your own marketing skills up to scratch. Alternatively, explore what's involved in a marketing apprenticeship.

As technology advances, companies are embracing innovative approaches, such as video and virtual reality, to enhance audience engagement and understanding. While traditional offline marketing methods like radio and print advertising continue, social media and mobile platforms offer more cost-effective and often more impactful channels for delivering brand and product messages directly to targeted audiences.

The marketing industry welcomes a diverse range of skills. Journalistic abilities are highly valued, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) reports a growing trend towards integrating marketing and PR.

With analytics becoming increasingly crucial for comprehending consumer behaviour, businesses are utilising databases to gain deeper insights into market segments and implement targeted marketing strategies. As a result, graduates with strong numerical and analytical skills are in high demand.

Find out more about journalism courses, and discover the top tips for starting a career in PR.

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