Advertising Media: One of Today's Most Exciting Career Fields

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If you enjoy communicating with people and like variety, advertising could provide the perfect career for you. In today's fast-paced world, media are changing almost daily. The range of media outlets, for example, used to be limited to newspapers, radio, and TV, but today the Internet dominates the media scene.

Those who sell advertising for these different forms of media are the ones who drive the success of most businesses, even though the average person listening to a radio talk show or watching their favorite TV program never even thinks about who's behind the commercials they see or hear. They may be curious about who created the commercial but not even be aware that someone else was involved in getting the commercial put on the air in the first place. That someone else is the person selling the time slot to the company running the commercial.

Indeed, media jobs are quite varied. Some are production-oriented, such as graphic designer or proofreader, while others are sales-oriented, such as media planners and advertising sales representatives. As far as income goes, media sales jobs are typically higher up the ladder than production-oriented jobs. Following are descriptions of some of those advertising sales positions.

Media Sales

Most media sales jobs are found in media outlets such as TV and radio stations, print and online publishers, and companies that distribute cable programs. Sales representatives (or sales agents) may be in charge of meeting with local clients inside their offices, or they may be required to travel in order to solicit advertising from nationwide advertisers.

Skills and qualities required for these positions include:

• Ability to research — Getting background information on prospective clients will help you offer suggestions as to what will work best for them.

• Detail-oriented — You'll have to write up contracts, estimate costs, and calculate the hours required to get the job done.

• Persistence — As with any type of sales work, potential clients don't always ''sign on the dotted line'' during the first visit.

• Enthusiasm — A positive attitude will be conveyed as confidence, encouraging more clients to buy. This is especially important when you have a quota to fill.

• Stamina — Deadlines can require long hours, and may sometimes even include working weekends and holidays.

• Creativity — The ability to ''think outside the box'' is helpful with any media job, even in sales, since you need to be able to present ideas that your clients may not have thought of themselves.

Getting a job as a sales representative doesn't require a college degree, but taking a few courses on advertising would certainly be helpful. It's also important to have previous sales experience.

Media Planners

Media planner jobs require the same qualities in a candidate as do sales representative positions. But they also require strong business skills and some understanding of psychology, too. Responsibilities may include:

• Selecting the best types of media for advertising placement on behalf of clients.

• Analyzing target audiences.

• Keeping up with current media developments.

• Being able to suggest venues for distribution of digital media.

• Generating press releases and distributing them to media outlets.

• Understanding what motivates people to buy. (This is where the psychology comes in.)

Entry-level candidates for media planner jobs need to be college graduates in one of the following disciplines: marketing, advertising, liberal arts, or business administration. You should also have some work experience in the field. Many media planners work their way up to this position from the level of sales representative.

Other Jobs in Media

Sales and media planning aren't the only types of jobs available in the field of advertising. Other areas in this field include graphic design, proofreading, and various aspects of print production, including layout and camera work (for example, creating the negatives and plates for printing publications).

Graphic design jobs require more than artistic talent and creativity. You also need to have expertise in several key software programs, including the Adobe Creative Suite of Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat, and InDesign, and possibly others like QuarkXPress and SnagIt.

Associate degrees and certificates are often adequate to get started in graphic design, although large companies may require a four-year degree for higher positions.

Print production coordinators and supervisors need experience in several aspects of print media production — experience you can get with newspapers and magazines of all sizes. You must be organized, a team player, and have good communication as well as technical skills. A degree is not as important with these jobs, although a business degree would be helpful for most jobs in management.

Where to Look for Media Jobs

If you're interested in the related to media, you can begin your search online with job banks and websites for media-related organizations. Local or regional newspapers or magazines are among your potential employers, too.

Networking among friends, former professors, and members of your family is another great way to learn about job openings. If you're looking for companies that might be hiring, check out the business pages in your local paper to see which businesses are expanding or opening new offices. Entry-level positions will be easier to find in most companies, and they're a great way to get your foot in the door.

Don't forget to update your resume, have recent samples in your portfolio, and keep a list of references on hand. If you set aside a certain amount of time each week for your job search, you'll increase your chances of turning one of your job interviews into an actual job offer in the very near future.
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