Digital Media, Marketing, and Public Relations: Three Careers Merge into One

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One of the most fascinating and lucrative careers available in this day and age is public relations (PR) marketing. PR job openings aren't common on job listings boards, because the field is somewhat nebulously defined. You may see it as ''Marketing Jobs,'' or ''PR Marketing Jobs,'' or even under ''Communications Marketing Specialist,'' or ''Customer Service Resale Agent.''

PR marketing jobs are all about building the brand of a company through its public relations outreach and communications programs. You must be able to synthesize organizational messages, understand the needs of the company's demographic requirements, and transmit them in a captivating manner that presents the company in its interrelations with customers through all current forms of media from print and broadcast to Internet and social media networking.

This field has become more and more challenging in recent years, as the profusion of network and social media sites have made the avenues by which a customer (or, sadly) an employee can impair the public relations or marketing effort have grown. What used to be a tempo of structured press releases that got sent to the usual sources has become a model where direct customer community building is a critical part of a company's public relations and marketing efforts. Companies in the Internet economy have to understand that public relations and marketing is interactive, and the people they hire to handle Internet and social media need to be savvy on how things work.

As an example of two ways to handle PR and marketing jobs in the current media environment, look at how Pepsi Co handled the ''Free Song Download'' crisis of this summer. (Customers could get a code that would allow them to download a free exclusive track from U2's upcoming album; technical issues abounded and their server collapsed under the strain, in large part because all of the bottle caps with access codes were sent in the first shipment.) When consumer outrage was at its peak on the Internet, Pepsi Co devoted people to staying on the company Twitter feed to answer questions in real time – they went out of their way to admit that they'd made a mistake, and bent over backwards to rectify it; as a result, they built a community around their products. Pepsi was no longer just a soda brand; it was a company that had its customers change from attacking it to defending it.

A counter example just happened recently; a consultant about to give a presentation on the power of modern media to a multi-million dollar client did a great deal of damage to his employer's position by using Twitter to say he couldn't understand why anyone would choose to live in the city the company was based in. This Twitter posting resulted in a formal dressing down by the client company...and has turned into an example of what not to do as a PR marketing professional.

The skills you'll need to be able to demonstrate to get this type of position are varied; a degree in marketing and communications is a good foundation, as is one in psychology. You will need to have strong written and verbal communications abilities, including an ability to handle new kinds of communications, so that you can make policy recommendations for how to use them to your employer's benefit.

A solid set of research skills, including being able to summarize well, is critical for this position. You need to be able to convey complex subjects simply, concisely and intelligently if you want to maximize your success at a PR marketing job. You'll also need to be multidisciplinary, being able to at least follow what the IT staff are saying, be able to understand the basics of statistical science (for reading trend lines and reports), and absorb the specifications of new technologies with ease.

If you're an older worker, one who's in their late 30s, it's worth your time to delve into new methods of communication, especially digital forms. The short answer is that if your teenager is using it, you should probably know how it works and be able to explain it to someone who's not especially tech savvy.

This hybridization of two career paths (marketing and public relations) is an ongoing trend as digital media reshapes the work place, and social networking supplements (and in some cases replaces) traditional communications channels. Everything that's marketing related, particularly if it involves interactive content, or a chance for customers to give feedback directly, is also a public relations job. As the two examples above illustrate, this sort of digital media pervasiveness is a double edged sword, and knowing both how to use it, and being able to coach people in the organization how NOT to use it, is important.

Consider taking on a merged PR and marketing job if you're looking to remain near the top of either field; the digital content issues are becoming more important every year in public relations.
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 public relations  Internet  broadcasts  outreach  careers  press releases

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