Advertising and Public Relations

Advertising and public relations are both fields of communication. This is why the transferable skills that English majors develop during their academic career are crucial. Reading, writing, research, analysis, argumentation, and organization are critical for success. Because advertising and public relations are rapidly growing industries with projected job growth, Money Magazine has ranked jobs in this industry as one of the fifty top jobs in America.


What is Advertising?

Advertising campaigns try to convince consumers to purchase or use certain products. Advertisements are designed to enhance the consumers’ perception of the merchandise and to get them interested enough in it to buy it. Advertising campaigns are often launched simultaneously on television, billboards, radio, and internet. In the advertising world, there are a number of different roles, including account managers (who run the account), media buyers (who purchase ad space) and copywriters and art directors (who develop the creative platforms).

In addition to the traditional roles available in advertising firms, one of the new professions that have emerged from the transformation of the market to which advertisers pitch their campaigns is corporate blogger.  This is a person who updates the company, brand, or product websites daily, generating interest both in the company products and in the state of the company business. Since many of the products we buy nowadays are services that only exist online, or applications that we use to perform some basic functions daily, some of the most popular blogs (think Google, Facebook, Apple, or Dropbox company blogs) keep track of the vitality of the brand, inform customers about the directions the company is taking, or announce products that will be released and prepare the market to be interested in buying or using the new items.


What is Public Relations?

Jobs in public relations can vary enormously from company to company, but the focus is often on creating campaigns or initiatives to persuade people to take a particular course of action.  Those who work in public relations develop both the strategic and creative development of a campaign and often have to “sell in” their ideas to clients or senior executives.  Some of the tactics that might be part of a particular program include live events, videos, social media, speeches and crisis preparedness.  Within the marketing industry, there has been a lot of growth in the creation and marketing of “corporate content,” which can be in many forms:  corporate blogs, videos, websites, magazines and social media.   This content will sometimes focus on the company or brand, but often it is more about entertainment and information as a way to engage new customers and build loyalty.  It can be developed by PR or other marketing professionals.

Edward L. Bernays, the “father” of public relations, defines it this way:

       Public relations (pub’lic re-la’shuns) n. sing. – An applied social science that influences behavior and policy, when communicated effectively, motivates an individual or group to a specific course of action by creating, changing or reinforcing opinions and attitudes. Its ultimate objective is persuasion that results in a certain action which, to succeed,must serve the public interest.

Jill, who works in public relations, explains what her work is about, how it is different from advertising, provides examples of the kinds of campaigns she has been on, and describes a typical day at work:


Internships, Special Programs and Opportunities

The advertising and public relations industries offer a variety of opportunities to learn what the business is about and to figure out how to set up a career path using your communication skills and creativity in this profession. Because there are more people qualified for the jobs than there are positions, these are very competitive fields, and most careers are initiated through an internship. This experience can be paid or unpaid and provides an opportunity for individual candidates to learn the ropes of the job and to demonstrate their creative skills and make other contributions to the company. The number and nature of these jobs are changing with the changes in the information technology and the spread of global markets. Some careers that begin locally may end up global, as the advertising campaigns begin to serve brands that become popular worldwide. Because of the nature of today’s markets, some of these jobs will require technical and marketing savvy.

Public Relations Student Society of America offers crucial information about the profession and lists available internships. As a PRSSA member, you have access to the PRSA Jobcenter, a resource for finding public relations employment opportunities all over the world. On the site, you can learn how to post your résumé, sign up for job alerts and pose career-search questions to seasoned professionals.

The Lagrant Foundation is an organization whose mission it is to increase the number of ethnic minorities in the communications field.  They offer scholarship opportunities, free career development classes and webinars, and help with getting internship opportunities and more. 

The Council of Public Relations Firms just launched a new campaign on getting into PR.  It features a video contest and testimonials and videos about working at a PR agency.