10 pieces of career advice for marketing and PR majors

Aspiring to a job in communications? Commit to a lifetime of learning. Also, gain practical experience, learn how to tastefully market yourself, and prioritize networking.

It’s a wild, exciting time to be a professional communicator.

Marketing, communications and PR are evolving—quickly and profoundly—and there’s always something new to learn. If this is the path you’d like to pursue, here are 10 tips to bolster and sustain your career:

1. Never stop learning.

Are you the type of person who would happily remain a student forever? Marketers can kind of get away with this.

Marketing in the digital era is a volatile landscape. Tactics, platforms and strategies are constantly shifting, which means you’ll always have to keep your skills sharp.

Marketers must embrace emerging technologies and get the jump on new trends to remain relevant, effective and employed.

Here are a few resources to help you stay up to date:

2. Plan for the future.

Majoring in marketing or communications gives you plenty of career options. However, it’s wise to cultivate a broad array of skills. Dabble in WordPress, web design, video and audio. Try to learn a bit about augmented and virtual reality.

Think strategically about your course selections as an undergraduate. If you’re considering an MBA, take statistics. If you love blogging, take a few extra writing courses.

3. Gain experience.

We all have to start somewhere. If you’re still in school, ask your career advisor to help you find flexible arrangements to volunteer or intern. Some companies even allow remote or virtual internships.

If you have a favorite nonprofit organization, find ways to get involved. Every nonprofit needs strong communication, yet most lack the money to produce consistent, compelling stories. Volunteering your skills is an easy way to gain practical experience and build your portfolio.

If you consistently contribute your time to an organization (even just a few hours each week), opportunities will come your way.

4. Remember the bottom line.

As you start to participate in marketing initiatives, consider how the work you’re doing connects to the bottom line. How do your activities help generate revenue, earn new customers or increase brand awareness? What are the key metrics your bosses deem important?

Marketers must be able to prove the results of their efforts and clearly display ROI. Always keep the bottom line top of mind.

5. Learn how to market yourself.

It’s easy to become a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. One skill you should master, however, is the art of tasteful self-promotion.

Learn as much as you can about different aspects of marketing, but work to specialize in one or two niches. This makes it easier to market yourself when searching for opportunities.

6. Use social media as a learning tool.

If you haven’t had the chance to manage a company’s social media strategy, create your own opportunities. If you love sports, monitor the Twitter feeds of your favorite teams to learn from their approach. See how different brands interact with customers online, and take special note of how companies handle crises.

Talk to local nonprofits to see whether they’d let you manage one of their platforms.

Don’t just waste time on social media; learn as you scroll.

7. Brush up on copyright rules.

Whether you need music for a video or an image for a blog post, at some point you’ll have to curate content from other sources. Learn what you can and cannot use, and always attribute appropriately.

8. Prioritize networking.

There are loads of conferences, workshops and meet-ups geared toward communicators. For example, designers can look up their local Adobe User Group. WordPress fans meet up all over the world.

Whatever your niche, there is a gathering where you can meet people in the industry.

9. Find professional associations.

The American Marketing Association has nationwide networks. PR professionals have the PRSA, and communicators can join the National Communication Association.

There are also scores of more informal groups that cater to just about every communication, writing and marketing niche.

10. Stay inspired.

The tactical side of marketing is extremely important to master, but don’t neglect creativity. Nurture your creative side, and consume content that inspires you. Develop a rotation of blogs, podcasts, books and magazines that feed your mind and spark fresh ideas.

The world of marketing and communication moves fast. It can be overwhelming to keep up, but remember to have fun, keep learning, and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. You’ll find a supportive community of people who are struggling with the same challenges, obstacles and issues.

Jacqui Lantagne leads the digital marketing strategy at Granite State College. A version of this post first appeared on the Granite State College blog.

Topics: PR


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