There are a vast number of roles within the agency & in-house sectors, and the continual evolution of online and digital marketing is pushing the boundaries even further. You could choose to embark upon a career in an agency, from PR & Social, Digital and Brand through to a fully-integrated one. Or, you could choose to take your career along the client-side path, which could see you handle the marketing output for an organisation, from an online retailer or a charity through to an innovative tech-based company, or a high-profile professional services firm. Over 90% of companies are now looking at how to improve their online presence so new and exciting opportunities will start to appear.
For those that are about to graduate we’d suggest taking some time to research the different type of agencies that exist, and where they are, particularly if you have your mind & heart set on working in such an environment. Don’t be fixated on London because there are an incredible number of agencies cropping up all over cities such as Manchester & Birmingham. Agencies tend to recruit a selective few at a junior level so it may be best to apply directly to them with a cool & innovative CV – a lot of roles may not be advertised. For those of you seeking a client-side role, try not be drawn in by all the cool brands, because there are just as many great SMEs that don’t get a high volume of CVs, but can offer just as good as career as a blue chip one. Your career trajectory will be quicker and you will have more responsibility which can only add value to your development. Most of all, be open minded about both sides and never be too quick to judge until you been in & met the people & experienced the culture.
These are the principle roles available to you:
Account Executive / Account Manager
This position would suit someone looking for a diverse and challenging role within a creative and innovative environment, and, typically, prospective employers in this environment may be more interested in looking at your personal qualities, such as how creative and innovative you are, rather that your formal qualifications.
Starting your career within an agency is incredibly positive as you are exposed to all the elements of agency life and are given the opportunity to work with a broad range of brands. If you can’t get into one of the bigger and more established agencies, it is sometimes more beneficial to start your career with a small or medium-sized outfit, as you will most likely get more responsibility which will strengthen your overall skills and knowledge.
Generally, in an agency, the Account Executive will act as the primary link between the different agency teams, and will generally work on a mix of accounts. On a daily basis, you will oversee campaigns, keep an eye on costs, and timescales, and, once approved, will work with colleagues to oversee it to fruition. You’ll be reporting to the Account Manager, who then typically reports to an Account Director; the Account Manager will also be working closely with the Account Directors and other colleagues on a number of projects, while simultaneously presenting campaign ideas and budgets to clients.
Social Media Manager
Social Media Managers can be based client-side or in agencies where they will be given the opportunity to work with multiple brands; the role involves implementing effective social media strategies, developing brand awareness, generating web traffic, and cultivating leads. This role has significantly evolved and can now involve aspects of digital project management, content generation and distribution, influencer profiling and management, social/display ads, SEO, proposal writing and client management.
You’ll take ownership for all social media marketing campaigns, which could involve producing relevant and SEO-rich web content, updating and maintaining social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, and generating industry-specific blogs, while also developing and expanding their own and their clients’ online community through positive engagement and monitoring social media trends.
It is now important for a Social Media Manager to have wider digital expertise, display an in-depth understanding of various social media platforms, and have solid writing experience and deep knowledge of SEO principles.
Copywriters usually work with one Art Director as a team, in order to generate original ideas and concepts for advertising campaigns. This pairing is very simple – the Copywriter provides the words and the Art Director provides the pictures. Bear in mind that a headline can make or break a campaign so the pressure is on where big budgets are involved.
Working together means that concepts can arise in two ways – sometimes driven by the words with the visual following, and sometimes the other way around! The words a Copywriter produces can impact an entire campaign, as they’ll be producing punchy slogans, message headlines, and straplines for a range of material, including posters and leaflets. Of course, Copywriters are also tasked with creating long and engaging copy for press, brochures, and TV scripts.
In this sector, it’s important for creatives to keep up-to-date with popular culture and trends; they should be constantly brimming with ideas, as they’ll be working on several campaigns simultaneously and under pressure to meet deadlines.
The positions of Art Director and Copywriter are truly fascinating career paths to take, and if you are starting out, it’s important to try and gain agency-based work experience. This will build up a strong portfolio, covering different online and offline media, which will enhance your employment chances and add depth to your CV.
Designers provide the visual means to communicate a message, and do this through selecting and producing the correct images and typography. The work of a Designer is demanding and requires constant creativity, an incredible eye for detail, the determination to keep up-to-date with technical trends, and the ability to work well in a team and with a selection of departments.
A Designer will usually work closely with account handlers and creative teams to bring their clients’ briefs to life! Using their creative senses, the Designer is able to develop innovative concepts and design solutions for print and web, and produce pieces for various kinds of media, including advertisements, websites, magazines, posters, brochures, leaflets, and now stretches to apps and mobile.
The job landscape in the design profession has changed beyond recognition over the past few years. In today’s evolving market, Designers need to be able to switch their creative intuition from a corporate brochure to a multi-layered website, and will also be expected to learn new software packages. It makes for a very interesting career choice, but be prepared for a lot of hard work and the challenges your creative mind will face!
Digital Account Manager
A Digital Account Manager is the key link between the agency and the client, ensuring that digital briefs are interpreted diligently, and delivered on time and within budget. In essence, you are the front line for client contact and you will lead the creative and sometimes technical development of projects, which could include e-commerce and promotional websites, email marketing, banner adverts, mobile apps, motion graphics, and social media platforms.
The Digital Account Manager will lead projects and coordinate the efforts of the creative team, planners/buyers, and the technical and development team. They will also be tasked with identifying opportunities to increase revenue with both new and existing clients, and keeping up-to-date with new technologies.
This function may vary from that of a Digital Project Manager, a role which will see you manage schedules and plans, and, in the vast majority of cases, hold your clients’ hands through the more technical and development stages of a project. Their expertise will lie in their ability to translate technical issues into plain terms so that their client has a clear vision of what is happening through all stages of the design and build. A Digital Project Manger will normally have sound planning and organisational ability, and a good understanding of web architecture, user experience, content, SEO, and analytics. A Prince 2 qualification is also associated with a Digital Project Manager’s skills set.
The majority of Digital Account Managers or Project Managers will have a business, computer science or IT-related degree, and a genuine interest in and passion for new technologies.
Marketing Executives work client-side, not for an agency. The role of a Marketing Executive is incredibly broad as they can work on planning, advertising, promotion, PR and media relations, digital, product development, distribution, sponsorship, and research. The role is often challenging, varied, and exciting.
Marketing Executives may also be known as Marketing Assistants or Marketing Coordinators. These roles will frequently involve working with suppliers, external agencies, colleagues in other departments, and marketing colleagues such as Product Managers.
On a regular basis, the Marketing Executive will be responsible for placing adverts, writing and distributing press releases, preparing photoshoots, writing and proofreading marketing materials, and carrying out market research and customer surveys to assess demands, brand positioning, and awareness. The Marketing Executive will also be tasked with maintaining mailing databases, handling events and exhibitions, and liaising with internal creative departments and external agencies.
In today’s world of commerce, successful marketers need an ever-increasing skill set and you will need to be numerate and analytical as well as innovative, intuitive, quick thinking, and able to grasp new technologies and ideologies quickly. You will also need to be confident, persuasive, and able to get the best out of those around you.
PR Account Executive
Many get into PR by interning while at university. Most PR agencies and communication departments offer internship opportunities, where you’ll learn how to make contacts in the business and build up a portfolio. To get in, you’ll need a good general education and the proven ability to communicate well, both in writing and speech. An English or related degree will help, as will a PR-based one, training in marketing and/or communications, or a writing-based role. With the explosion of online media over the past few years, PR is more important than ever, and companies are hiring more agencies and PR Executives to manage internet relationships.
PR Account Executives work for agencies, either independent or fully-integrated ones. They strive to establish goodwill and understanding for their clients, and monitor the publicity that is generated on their behalf. They will liaise on a daily basis with the client to update and report on the success of the publicity. Without question, you must have excellent skills in writing, organising, public speaking, and must be able to source all manner of specialists. They may be asked to ghost-write a newsletter, organise a press launch, write a 1000-word trade article, produce a snappy blog, lobby some MPs, or organise a fundraising event. They need to be intelligent, thoughtful, resilient, and versatile.
PR agencies often specialise in areas such as business-to-consumer PR or business-to-business PR, and often in particular sectors, such as financial, fashion, leisure, retail, or healthcare PR. The work of a PR Account Executive is likely to vary from day to day, depending on the area of expertise and the industry sector in which they specialise. The pace of the work and the depth of detail needed may vary depending on the type of media being targeted and the deadlines it demands.
If you go into PR, you’ll either work at an agency or within a larger company’s communications department. At an agency, you’ll serve multiple clients; at a large company, you’ll serve that company, or, more likely, a division or area within it.
Within corporate PR departments, you’ll probably work more independently than you would at an agency. On the corporate side, you’ll hear about departments such as investor relations, public affairs, crisis management, and so forth. The work in these departments can be similar, but the focus is on reaching a particular target, relating to investors, the public, stakeholders, and so on.
A Press Officer is the media contact for their employer. Typical activities can include: planning coping strategies in case of various catastrophes, and educating senior staff on how to manage potential problems; training senior staff how to cope with the media if professional help is not to hand; planning and implementing an annual round of press-related activities to raise awareness of the company; writing press releases and news articles; monitoring and liaising with the media, and arranging press conferences, news briefings, media interviews, press visits, and public events; and attending committee meetings and debates, keeping up to date with current issues and public opinions.
A Press Officer may also accompany senior staff on high-profile meetings, visits, or conferences. It can be an interesting career choice, particularly if you work for a commercial or not-for-profit business that is of personal interest to you. Some of our candidates, after a certain period of working in-house, switch to an agency environment to broaden their experiences and widen their knowledge of other industry sectors.
The way marketing has evolved over the past decade has meant that seemingly endless career opportunities have arisen in the creative sector, from content specialist to Digital PR Manager.
It’s a fascinating sector, and we wish you luck with whichever career path you decide to take!