How we digest information is rapidly changing. Thanks to technology and social media we can find information when we want it, however we want it. So if you are an ideas person with a flair for writing or producing content there has never been more diversity within the communications industry for young graduates to soak up and succeed.
From public relations, business communications, traditional (and non-traditional) journalism to editing, event management and marketing; communication experts are in high demand. But where do you fit?
Here is a quick look into some of the different jobs within the industry.
Public relations has seen a huge spike over the past ten years and is now one of the most popular avenues for media/communication graduates.
At it’s core, public relations is about managing the communication and public perception of any organisation, person, product or specific issues. This is done by handling media enquires, crafting positive and persuasive messages in the marketplace and most prominently, getting positive exposure and editorial coverage.
What sets PR apart, and makes it so damn enviable, is variety. Despite what Sex and the City and Gossip Girl tell us, PR is so much more than fashion. Don’t get us wrong, fashion PR exists and is a vibrant avenue to stroll down but in reality, as a PR professional you could be working for a not-for-profit, corporate brand, event or even specific person.
While we’re busting myths, public relations careers are also not just about enjoying a cocktail or two at events, soirees and fundraisers, though this may appear to be one of the perks of the job.
The truth is you likely won’t be a guest at the party; you’ll be working to ensure that the event is bringing an ROI for the client and asking questions like, “Are the journalists talking to the brand ambassador we have paid to be here?”
Finally, a little note to those thinking this career might be for them: to succeed in the industry you’ll need an eye for trends, love research and be the best organiser that you know.
There are many, many types of journalists and writers (seriously so many). From a newspaper columnist, foreign correspondent and magazine feature writer to book reviewer, foodie fanatic and freelance blogger, there’s a niche for every wordsmith.
Caveat: having a way with words doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to a life in print. TV and radio also have teams of journalists working on daily content for their on-air talent, online platforms or social media.
All that said, it’s competitive industry and while the job opportunities are diverse, landing a dream role in your chosen niche can be tricky so getting started and getting noticed can often mean working for free or getting exposure through a blog.
Those keen to start up a blog will need three things, a website (basic is best), an angle (with plentiful story ideas) and the attitude and pizzazz of a hard worker. Zoe Foster Blake herself blogged to push her personal brand to the next level. She advises budding bloggers to know their niche, like really know it, and be aware of their audience, trends and the wider media landscape.
To succeed in the industry you need to be a resourceful go-getter with finger permanently on the pulse and a knack for getting shit done under deadline.
If you enjoy the rush of creating content, telling stories and producing interesting pieces of bit sized information, this could be the avenue for you.
Publishing and Editing
Do you have an eye for detail, a love for print and consider typography a hobby? A career in magazine or book publishing, online publishing or editing could be calling you. Working for a magazine or editorial brand is diverse and as a publisher or editor, you’ll have multiple hats to wear. On an average day you could be writing content, researching trends and stories, working on galleries or liaising with a freelance designer.
The magazine publishing industry is a notoriously difficult industry to crack, just ask Justine Cullen Editor and Chief of Elle Magazine. She’s an advocate for work experience and believes it’s simply the only way to get your foot in the door (she, like many other publishers also prefer to hire from within, so you’ll hard work just might pay off).
Marketing and Advertising
Ever wonder why you don’t see commercials for alcohol during the 6 o’clock news? Or why ads for ‘quick escapes’ and ‘holiday deals’ are usually promoted at the end of a working day? It all has to do with demographics. Case in point: When the 6 o’clock news is on, you’ve likely got a host of young families watching. Who better to remind about upcoming purchases like shampoo, milk and family-sized cars?
A business wants to place their products and services in front of audiences they know are watching, listening, or even driving by. How do they know where and what to share about their product? They turn to media planners, marketers and advertisers.
Working in marketing or advertising can see you doing anything from the planning and execution of marketing plans to working on product launches, advertising communications, consumer research or promotions.
To work in the industry you’ll need to start at the bottom and work your way up. Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot of self-taught experience that will get you noticed, so you’ll need to be patient (and career hungry) to climb through the ranks.
Writing careers typically fall into two categories: creative and technical.
The creative side involves generating imaginative stories to entertain, enlighten, inspire or – in the case of advertising –persuade your audience to buy a particular product or service.
The technical side tends to be more analytical in nature and seeks to educate readers on how something is done and/or why it exists. Examples of this would be how-to training manuals, encyclopedias, financial reports and government regulations. Creative writing is subjective and derives from personal opinions and beliefs; technical writing is objective and focuses on measurable facts. Writers often classify themselves as “right-brained” (free-thinkers) or “left-brained” (logical) but there are certainly crossover aspects depending on the nature of the project.
You don’t necessarily have to be an expert in every topic under the sun to be a technical writer but you need to be able to understand and use technical language, and translate that into plain English for a specific audience. I.e. it’s a LOT harder than it looks.
The path to being a full-time technical writer is not an easy one. You’ll need to learn how to not take rejection personally rather and look at what can be done to improve. As a technical writer, you’ll also need to stay abreast of what’s going on with your competition, be judicious in your research and invite (and be gracious about) feedback.