What is a career in media and communications?
A career in media and communications can be incredibly diverse, with roles ranging from journalism and hands-on media production to strategy and advisory work for governmental organisations and corporate business. What they have in common is the desire to tell a compelling story that connects with its target audience to entertain, increase understanding, affect behaviour or bring about a change in attitude.
The boundaries between different types of media are more blurred than ever before, with many companies now delivering services via television, mobile phones, offline multimedia, and the internet. The impact of big data means that companies can personalise content and predict user behaviour in a way that is unprecedented.
Competition is fierce within the industry and there are few structured career paths. A willingness to work long hours and build experience and contacts is vital, as is demonstrating interest and commitment through internships and self-initiated projects.
Where can I work, what can I do, and how can I get there?
- Media producers or publishers – across print, TV and online. Ranging from newspapers, eg, The Guardian Media Group, and broadcasters such as the BBC and CNBC, to financial information providers, eg, Thomson Reuters and specialist business-to-business publishers such as Euromoney.
- ‘In-house’ communications and marketing teams – most organisations have a communications and marketing function. This can range in size from one or two people within a small NGO, to several hundred within a large multi-national company.
- Communications or marketing agencies – provide services on behalf of their clients. Can be small and specialise in one area, such as finance, advertising, market research, consumer, or public affairs, or larger and ‘full service’ or ‘integrated’, ie, they work across more than one discipline. Typical employers include marketing consultancies, market research organisations, digital specialists, advertising, and PR agencies.
Digital media has overtaken traditional media in terms of consumer spend. Producing high quality online content is a key differentiator for media outlets and the number of roles in this space is growing rapidly. Globalisation, technology, and digitalisation are also key issues affecting the industry. Employers will expect you to develop technical knowledge and be able to demonstrate multimedia awareness as well as knowledge of a more general commercial and legal nature.
- Journalism – a very popular career choice. Prospects job profiles provide further details on the roles of newspaper journalist, magazine journalist and press sub-editor. Working as a sub-editor can be a useful way to gain experience in a newsroom, and web content writing can give you valuable technical skills and help you to develop a portfolio.
- Media production – roles in TV and radio production are extremely sought after. An ability to seek out and tell a good story is key. The Prospects television/film/video producer and radio producer job profiles provide further details. Starting as a runner is a common entry point, before progressing to the role of broadcast assistant, for example.
- Public relations and communications – manages the reputation of an organisation or company, and its products and services. Roles can be based ‘in-house’ or agency-side, wide-ranging or specialist, eg, in public affairs or corporate communications. Entrants to the industry typically start at assistant/executive level before progressing to officer or manager. The Prospects public relations officer and public affairs consultant job profiles provide more information.
- Publishing – the editorial department tends to be the most competitive area of the publishing industry. The typical entry-level role is editorial assistant, which involves administrative duties and liaison with other departments. Copy editors proofread manuscripts, check references and ensure corrections are made. Commissioning editor is the most sought-after editorial job. The Prospects editorial assistant, publishing copy-editor/proofreader and commissioning editor job profiles are a useful resource. Other departments include rights and contracts, production, and publicity and marketing.
- Marketing – finds out what customers want, then promotes and sells them the right products and services. Includes market research, product/service development, price setting, advertising, distribution and selling. Used by the public sector to promote services or campaigns, and by charities and interest groups to raise awareness, influence opinions or raise money. The Prospects marketing executive job profile provides details of a typical starting role. Prospects also provides an overview of several other graduate marketing jobs.
- Advertising – considered a 'sub-set' of marketing, typically handled by agencies. Creates campaigns for clients, identifying the target market, the message to be communicated, the best way to communicate it and how its effectiveness should be measured. The Prospects advertising account executive job profile describes a typical entry level role. Other roles include advertising account planner, media buyer, advertising art director and advertising copywriter.
There are very few formal graduate recruitment or internship schemes in media, and informal work placements are the norm. Being proactive in your job search is expected and employers welcome (and expect) speculative applications. Self-employment and freelancing are very common.
Where can I find out more about working in this sector?
Interested in finding out more about a career in media and communications?
Here are some helpful links, including the ways LSE Careers can work with you on your journey.
LSE Careers resources:
- Prospects overview of creative industries (including employers by sector)
- Eric app: supporting young people to get into creative industries.
- Target blog: Career opportunities in the creative industries
- Media.info: online directory of contact details for newspapers, radio, magazines and television.
- ScreenSkills: the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen-based creative industries – covering animation, film, games, television including children's TV and high-end drama, VFX and immersive technology.
- Public Affairs Board: a useful resource for UK Public Affairs practitioners from the Public Relations and Communications Association.
- The Chartered Institute of Marketing: leading organisation for marketing and business development.
- Marketing Week: online marketing-related news website with jobs database.
- PR Week: a useful site for keeping up to date with current news in the PR sector.
- MyFirstJobinFilm: advice on breaking into the film industry.
- Institute of Public Relations: the blog is a good way of keeping up to date with latest issues and trends in PR industry.
- Institute of Practitioners in Advertising: trade and professional body for advertising, media, and marketing communications agencies.
- Talent Manager: main forum for film and TV jobs.
- AdMission: website run by the IPA with careers information and a blog.
- The Network is part of the Edinburgh TV Festival and provides a free entry-level scheme.
- 'Five tips for starting a career in PR' by Prospects
- Deloitte Future Creative Economy report: with country breakdown
- No Turning Back: not for profit organisation set up to promote greater diversity in the creative industries including a jobs board.
- LSESU Advertising, Marketing and PR: LSE student society that organises external speaker events, including with alumni.
- Pub Affairs Networking: award-winning network for the public affairs, government relations, policy and communications industry.
- The Dots: networking for creative professionals.