Definition Ofthe Career Path

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While some of the careers explored in this chapter are entered by graduates with field-specific majors (advertising majors going into advertising, marketing majors going into marketing, and so forth), graduates of communications programs are blazing new trails as well as following well-established ones through a variety of terrains. University communications departments now cover areas that once belonged to different and separate departments. They offer programs that successfully compete with departments of business, advertising, marketing, public relations, journalism, broadcasting, and a host of other fields.

The skills students acquire ignore career boundaries that these days are becoming more and more ill-defined. Not wanting to limit the potential talent they could attract, many employers and personnel directors shy away from specifying particular majors when advertising an opening. While bachelor s degrees still continue to be at least the minimum requirement, and increasing competition makes a master s degree even more desirable, the designated major is not as important.

Here is a sample job advertisement within this career path that stresses skills and responsibilities rather than majors:


Expanding advertising agency seeks customer-service-oriented professional to provide strategic guidance and advertising expertise to a growing list of clients. Minimum requirements: bachelor's degree and three years experience as a human resource generalist. Must have ability to establish and maintain long-standing relationships with major corporate clients, work independently, listen, and analyze client needs. Outgoing, poised individual with strong communication skills a must. Send resume to...

Not only is a major not specified in the sample ad, but the employer is seeking a generalist, someone who has not been pigeonholed by his or her work experience or university program. If you isolate the required skills mentioned, you will see that they could all belong to a communications major.

Advertising and Marketing

Although advertising and marketing are distinct fields, they are often linked together. Some definitions peg marketing as the broad category that encompasses advertising as well as disciplines such as public relations and sales. In simple terms, advertisers create a package to sell a product, service, or idea; marketing experts help decide toward which audiences the advertisement should be aimed.

The goal of advertising and marketing is to reach the consumer-to motivate or persuade a potential buyer; to sell a product, service, idea, or cause; to gain political support; or to influence public opinion. In the words of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (known as the 4 As):

Advertising is an indispensable part of our economic system. It is the vital link between businesses and consumers.

The business of advertising involves marketing objectives and artistic ingenuity. It applies quantitative and qualitative research to the creative process. It is the marriage of analysis and imagination, of marketing professional and artist.

Advertising is art and science, show business and just plain business, all rolled into one. And it employs some of the brightest and most creative economists, researchers, artists, producers, writers, and business people in the country today.

To aid in the advertising endeavor, marketing professionals gather public opinion or analyze the demographics and buying patterns of specific audiences. They play the role of researcher, statistician, social psychologist, and sociologist.

With the specific target audience in mind, advertising professionals assess the competition, set goals and a budget, design an advertisement-whether a simple three-line ad or a full-blown campaign-and determine how to best bring their message to that audience.

Most advertising agencies are organized into the following departments (although within smaller agencies, departments can be combined or services contracted out to independent subcontractors): agency management, account management,creative services, traffic control and production, media services, publicity and public relations, sales promotion, direct response, television production, and personnel.

To work within these departments, advertising agencies employ a number of professionals to perform a variety of duties.

Agency Manager. In a small agency, the manager might be the president, owner, or a partner. In giant agencies, the manager might be the chief executive officer reporting to a board of directors or an executive committee, in much the same way any corporation functions

The agency manager is responsible for establishing policies and planning, developing, and defining goals to ensure growth and economic viability.

Account Manager/Executive. An agency's client is usually called an account. The account manager supervises all the activity involved with a specific account and is ultimately responsible for the quality of service the client receives.

The account manager functions as a liaison between the advertising agency and the client's organization. He or she must be thoroughly familiar with the clients business, the consumer, the marketplace, and all the aspects of advertising, such as media, research, creative design, and commercial production.

Small agencies might function with just one account manager; large megaagencies could have hundreds or thousands, each handling a multitude of accounts.

Account managers usually reach their position after working up through the ranks.

Assistant Account Manager/Executive. Commonly, the assistant account manager reports directly to an account manager and can be assigned a wide range of duties. Some of these include analyzing the competition, writing reports, and coordinating creative, media, production, and research projects.

Candidates should possess at least a bachelor s degree, but a specific major in advertising or marketing is not a prerequisite, and communications majors are highly regarded.

Account management departments, along with media departments, hire the greatest number of entry-level candidates. Entry-level positions within the field of advertising can rapidly lead to more senior roles.

Creative/Art Director. The creative department of an advertising agency develops the ideas, images, words, and methods that contribute to the ultimate product: the commercial, ad, or campaign. Within an agency's creative department, many different professionals work together to meet the needs of the client. The art director works with writers, artists, and producers, from the conception of the advertisement to its final production.

Entry into the creative department of an advertising agency, as a copy-writer, designer, or assistant art director, is particularly competitive. Having a good portfolio to present to the art director will be a plus, and submitting freelance work can also help you get a foot in the door.

Assistant/Junior Art Director. The assistant art director reports to one or more art directors and is commonly responsible for preparing paste-ups and layouts for television storyboards and print ads. The assistant can also be involved in developing visual concepts and designs, and, supervising commercial production and photo sessions.
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