Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations Managers

Nature of the Work | Working Conditions | Employment | Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement | Job Outlook | Earnings | Related Occupations | Sources of Additional Information

Significant Points
  • Employment is projected to increase rapidly, but competition for jobs is expected to be intense.
  • Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers have high earnings, but substantial travel and long hours, including evenings and weekends, are common.
  • A college degree with almost any major is suitable for entering this occupation, but most people enter these jobs after acquiring experience in related positions.
Nature of the Work [About this section] Index

The objective of any firm is to market its products or services profitably. In small firms, the owner or chief executive officer might assume all advertising, promotions, marketing, sales, and public relations responsibilities. In large firms, which may offer numerous products and services nationally or even worldwide, an executive vice president directs overall advertising, promotions, marketing, sales, and public relations policies. (Executive vice presidents are included in the Handbook statement on general managers and top executives.) Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers coordinate the market research, marketing strategy, sales, advertising, promotion, pricing, product development, and public relations activities. Middle and supervisory managers oversee and supervise staffs of professionals and technicians.

Advertising and promotion staffs usually are small except in the largest firms. In a small firm, they may serve as a liaison between the firm and the advertising or promotion agency to which many advertising or promotional functions are contracted out. In larger firms, advertising managers oversee in-house account services, creative services, and media services departments. The account executive manages the account services department, assesses the need for advertising and, in advertising agencies, maintains the accounts of clients. The creative services department develops the subject matter and presentation of advertising. The creative director oversees the copy chief, art director, and their respective staffs. The media director oversees planning groups that select the communication media—for example, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, Internet, or outdoor signs—to disseminate the advertising.

Promotion managers supervise staffs of promotion specialists. They direct promotion programs combining advertising with purchase incentives to increase sales. In an effort to establish closer contact with purchasers—dealers, distributors, or consumers—promotion programs may involve direct mail, telemarketing, television or radio advertising, catalogs, exhibits, inserts in newspapers, Internet advertisements or websites, in-store displays or product endorsements, and special events. Purchase incentives may include discounts, samples, gifts, rebates, coupons, sweepstakes, and contests.

Marketing managers develop the firm’s detailed marketing strategy. With the help of subordinates, including product development managers and market research managers, they determine the demand for products and services offered by the firm and its competitors. In addition, they identify potential markets—for example, business firms, wholesalers, retailers, government, or the general public. Marketing managers develop pricing strategy with an eye towards maximizing the firm’s share of the market and its profits while ensuring that the firm’s customers are satisfied. In collaboration with sales, product development, and other managers, they monitor trends that indicate the need for new products and services and oversee product development. Marketing managers work with advertising and promotion managers to promote the firm’s products and services and to attract potential users.

Public relations managers supervise public relations specialists (see the Handbook statement on public relations specialists). These managers direct publicity programs to a targeted public. They often specialize in a specific area, such as crisis management—or in a specific industry, such as healthcare. They use every available communication media in their effort to maintain the support of the specific group upon whom their organization’s success depends, such as consumers, stockholders, or the general public. For example, public relations managers may clarify or justify the firm’s point of view on health or environmental issues to community or special interest groups.

Public relations managers also evaluate advertising and promotion programs for compatibility with public relations efforts and serve as the eyes and ears of top management. They observe social, economic, and political trends that might ultimately have an effect upon the firm, and make recommendations to enhance the firm’s image based on those trends.

Public relations managers may confer with labor relations managers to produce internal company communications—such as news about employee-management relations—and with financial managers to produce company reports. They assist company executives in drafting speeches, arranging interviews, and other forms of public contact; oversee company archives; and respond to information requests. In addition, some handle special events such as sponsorship of races, parties introducing new products, or other activities the firm supports in order to gain public attention through the press without advertising directly.

Sales managers direct the firm’s sales program. They assign sales territories, set goals, and establish training programs for the sales representatives (see Handbook statements on services sales representatives). Managers advise the sales representatives on ways to improve their sales performance. In large, multiproduct firms, they oversee regional and local sales managers and their staffs. Sales managers maintain contact with dealers and distributors. They analyze sales statistics gathered by their staffs to determine sales potential and inventory requirements and monitor the preferences of customers. Such information is vital to develop products and maximize profits.

Working Conditions [About this section]  Index

Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers are provided with offices close to top managers. Long hours, including evenings and weekends, are common. Almost 40 percent of advertising, marketing, and public relations managers worked 50 hours or more a week, compared to 15 percent for all occupations. Working under pressure is unavoidable when schedules change and problems arise, but deadlines and goals must still be met.

Substantial travel may be involved. For example, attendance at meetings sponsored by associations or industries is often mandatory. Sales managers travel to national, regional, and local offices and to various dealers and distributors. Advertising and promotion managers may travel to meet with clients or representatives of communications media. At times, public relations managers travel to meet with special interest groups or government officials. Job transfers between headquarters and regional offices are common, particularly among sales managers.

Employment [About this section]  Index

Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers held about 485,000 jobs in 1998. They are found in virtually every industry. Industries employing them in significant numbers include wholesale trade, manufacturing firms, advertising, computer and data processing services, and management and public relations.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement [About this section]   Index

A wide range of educational backgrounds are suitable for entry into advertising, marketing, and public relations managerial jobs, but many employers prefer a broad liberal arts background. A bachelor’s degree in sociology, psychology, literature, or philosophy, among other subjects, is acceptable. However, requirements vary depending upon the particular job.

For marketing, sales, and promotion management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing. Courses in business law, economics, accounting, finance, mathematics, and statistics are advantageous. In highly technical industries, such as computer and electronics manufacturing, a bachelor’s degree in engineering or science combined with a master’s degree in business administration is preferred.

For advertising management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in advertising or journalism. A course of study should include marketing, consumer behavior, market research, sales, communication methods and technology, and visual arts—for example, art history and photography.

For public relations management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in public relations or journalism. The individual’s curriculum should include courses in advertising, business administration, public affairs, political science, and creative and technical writing.

For all these specialties, courses in management and completion of an internship while in school are highly recommended. Familiarity with word processing and data base applications also is important for many advertising, marketing, and public relations management positions. Today, interactive marketing, product promotion, and advertising are increasingly prevalent, and computer skills are vital.

Most advertising, marketing, and public relations management positions are filled by promoting experienced staff or related professional or technical personnel. For example, many managers are former sales representatives, purchasing agents, buyers, product or brand specialists, advertising specialists, promotion specialists, and public relations specialists. In small firms, where the number of positions is limited, advancement to a management position usually comes slowly. In large firms, promotion may occur more quickly.

Although experience, ability, and leadership are emphasized for promotion, advancement can be accelerated by participation in management training programs conducted by many large firms. Many firms also provide their employees with continuing education opportunities, either in-house or at local colleges and universities, and encourage employee participation in seminars and conferences, often provided by professional societies. In collaboration with colleges and universities, numerous marketing and related associations sponsor national or local management training programs. Courses include brand and product management, international marketing, sales management evaluation, telemarketing and direct sales, promotion, marketing communication, market research, organizational communication, and data processing systems procedures and management. Many firms pay all or part of the cost for those who successfully complete courses.

Some associations (listed under sources of additional information) offer certification programs for advertising, marketing, and public relations managers. Certification is a sign of competence and achievement in this field that is particularly important in a competitive job market. While relatively few advertising, marketing, and public relations managers currently are certified, the number of managers who seek certification is expected to grow. For example, Sales and Marketing Executives International offers a management certification program based on education and job performance. The Public Relations Society of America offers an accreditation program for public relations practitioners based on years of experience and an examination.

Persons interested in becoming advertising, marketing, and public relations managers should be mature, creative, highly motivated, resistant to stress, flexible, and decisive. The ability to communicate persuasively, both orally and in writing, with other managers, staff, and the public is vital. Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers also need tact, good judgment, and exceptional ability to establish and maintain effective personal relationships with supervisory and professional staff members and client firms.

Because of the importance and high visibility of their jobs, advertising, marketing, and public relations managers often are prime candidates for advancement to the highest ranks. Well-trained, experienced, successful managers may be promoted to higher positions in their own or other firms. Some become top executives. Managers with extensive experience and sufficient capital may open their own businesses.

Job Outlook [About this section]  Index

Advertising, marketing, and public relations manager jobs are highly coveted and will be sought by other managers or highly experienced professional and technical personnel, resulting in substantial competition. College graduates with extensive experience, a high level of creativity, and strong communication skills should have the best job opportunities. Those who have new media and interactive marketing skills will be particularly sought after.

Employment of advertising, marketing, and public relations managers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2008. Increasingly intense domestic and global competition in products and services offered to consumers should require greater marketing, promotional, and public relations efforts by managers. Management and public relations firms may experience particularly rapid growth as businesses increasingly hire contractors for these services rather than support additional full-time staff.

Projected employment growth varies by industry. For example, employment of advertising, marketing, and public relations managers is expected to grow much faster than average in most business services industries, such as computer and data processing, and in management and public relations firms, while little or no change is projected in manufacturing industries.

Earnings [About this section]  Index

Median annual earnings of advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers in 1998 were $57,300. The middle 50 percent earned between $38,230 and $84,950 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,190 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $116,160 a year. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest number of advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers in 1997 were as follows:

Professional and commercial equipment $69,800
Telephone communications 64,100
Computer and data processing services 60,800
Advertising 54,300
Management and public relations 51,100

According to a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, starting salaries for marketing majors graduating in 1999 averaged about $31,900; advertising majors, about $26,600.

Salary levels vary substantially depending upon the level of managerial responsibility, length of service, education, firm size, location, and industry. For example, manufacturing firms usually pay advertising, marketing, and public relations managers higher salaries than nonmanufacturing firms do. For sales managers, the size of their sales territory is another important determinant of salary. Many managers earn bonuses equal to 10 percent or more of their salaries.

Related Occupations [About this section]  Index

Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers direct the sale of products and services offered by their firms and the communication of information about their firms’ activities. Other personnel involved with advertising, marketing, and public relations include art directors, artists and commercial artists, copy chiefs, copywriters, writers and editors, lobbyists, marketing research analysts, public relations specialists, promotion specialists, and sales representatives.

Sources of Additional Information [About this section]  Index

Disclaimer: Links to other Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

For information about careers and certification in sales and marketing, contact:

  • Sales and Marketing Executives International, 5500 Interstate North Pkwy., No. 545, Atlanta, GA 30328-4662. Internet: http://www.smei.org

For information about careers in advertising management, contact:

  • American Advertising Federation, Education Services Department, 1101 Vermont Ave. NW., Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005. Internet: http://www.aaf.org

Information about careers and certification in public relations management is available from:

  • Public Relations Society of America, 33 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003-2376. Internet: http://www.prsa.org

An industry employing advertising, marketing, and public relations managers that appears in the 2000-01 Career Guide to Industries: Advertising

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