The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines advertising, promotions, and marketing managers as professionals who plan promotional and advertising campaigns, negotiate advertising contracts, undertake market research to identify potential customers, and oversee marketing staff. It’s a big job with a big impact on the success of products and companies. While the job outlook for these professionals is growing at a respectable average rate, employment projections don’t tell the entire story about their importance to business operations.
Companies rely on advertising (a main component of marketing) to sell products and promote their brand. It’s the lifeblood of modern businesses. A study by Raconteur revealed that spending for internet advertising alone hit nearly $300 billion globally in 2019. In 2015, the number was roughly half as much; without question, this is a fast-growth sector. As companies strive to create marketing campaigns that capitalize on the latest consumer trends, advertising and promotions manager job openings should continue to come available.
Because they are vital to most businesses, advertising and promotions managers with the right communication skills and experience are well-paid (more on that below). Their median annual incomes are higher than those in most other professions, including lawyers—and you don’t need to pass the bar exam to land an advertising or promotions manager job.
If you’re wondering what does an advertising and promotions manager do?, keep reading. This article covers:
Advertising and promotions managers promote products and services through advertising and promotional campaigns. They conceive, plan, and execute promotions and ad campaigns, liaise with media to increase visibility, and collect analytics to monitor their efforts’ effectiveness. The job calls for a robust mix of technology, design, and communication skills. They are managers, so naturally their job requires solid management skills as well. According to O*Net, effective advertising and communications managers are solid critical thinkers, good negotiators, and skilled at judgment and decision-making. They have excellent time management abilities, are good with numbers, and learn quickly.
Advertising and promotions managers supervise the planning and preparation of all advertising and promotional materials, which includes reviewing, editing, and approving copy, scripts, layouts, audio and video, and other advertising and promotional materials. They confer with department heads, including account executives, regarding what is to be advertised/promoted; campaign budgets, contracts, and media selection; and the cost-effectiveness of each campaign. In addition, advertising and promotions managers coordinate the activities of sales, graphic design, media, finance, and research departments for all campaigns.
Though there’s overlap in the general description for both positions, the scope of responsibilities differs. Here’s what you can expect from each job title:
According to the BLS, advertising managers usually “serve as liaisons between the client and the promotion or advertising agency that develops and places the ads.” They can work for either organization or the one selling ad space. They need the interpersonal skills to communicate with art directors and others on the creative team, plus the business acumen and decision-making skills to manage budgets.
Promotions managers’ work centers more around “purchasing incentives,” often involving giveaways. The BLS includes promotional material like samples, gifts, and discounts as incentives. Promotions managers also work with more traditional advertising mediums like newsletters to run promotional campaigns.
Advertising and promotions managers typically ply their craft at ad agencies and marketing companies. If you work for a large company, it may have an in-house creative team. Large organizations like Chase have started exerting more control over creative and bringing media buying in-house.
The BLS lists the median income for these managers at $141,490 per year—an hourly rate of nearly $70 per hour. Managers typically benefit from additional income streams such as annual bonuses and performance incentives.
Earnings differ based on setting and location. The BLS lists the top industries for managers as advertising, public relations, and related services ($150,930), management of companies and enterprises ($126,420), information ($119,090), and wholesale trade ($96,380). Geography also can impact earnings. For instance, professionals in New York make more than those in Massachusetts, though the cost of living in New York is higher and may consume that higher salary.
According to the BLS, most advertising and promotions managers positions do not require a master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in journalism or advertising is typically a sufficient education level for launching a career in this field.
That said, a master’s degree can be extremely helpful, especially if you intend to advance to a more competitive, higher-paying job. A master’s equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to succeed and helps you stand out from other candidates. Additionally, good alumni connections and work samples can help you land a better position after graduation.
A master’s in strategic communications offers students the expertise they need to promote a company or organization’s communication agenda in fields like advertising, marketing, and public relations. They learn to implement communication strategies across multiple traditional, digital, and social media platforms to meet campaign goals. Programs typically combine traditional communications and management strategies with modern analytics and research tools to produce well-rounded candidates.
Though part-time students may take longer, most master’s programs last two years. Several high-quality accelerated communications degrees take less time.
Expect standard graduate admissions requirements when applying to a master’s in strategic communications. These include submitting a personal essay, letters of recommendation, undergraduate transcripts with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and your resume. Many programs no longer require Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores. Though programs can accommodate inexperienced career changers, many seek candidates with at least two years of communications work experience.
Though course titles differ, expect the main goal of gaining practical skills to remain the same at most schools, unless you attend a research-focused program. You’ll complete a combination of electives and core courses to learn effective communication and marketing strategy and the right ways to implement your techniques. Many programs, like Butler University‘s, require students to complete a capstone project, which provides students with real-world experiences to prepare them for their careers and make them more attractive to employers.
Though there are exceptions, most programs do not offer specialization tracks. Instead, students typically focus their education on electives, internships, and projects. In many instances, they’re able to work with professors who specialize in your desired focus area.
There are many excellent strategic communications programs to choose from, each with different strengths and weaknesses. Always be sure to research for your career goals. Top programs, including online degree programs, can be found at:
Students learn effective communication strategies to plan and execute campaigns in this 30-credit online Master of Science degree. They also study research techniques to identify and refine best practices. Butler’s graduates are prepared to work successfully in all communications formats, including digital media. Half the courses are electives, providing a high degree of flexibility. Capstone projects offer additional opportunities to pursue education and gain management experience in areas like branding and crisis communication.
Columbia’s program takes between 12 and 16 months to complete, making it shorter than most. Students take 36 credits in total and can complete coursework online. The year-long version typically attracts experienced professionals and does not include a practicum requirement. Those who complete a practicum get experience at public relations, brand strategy, and corporate communication companies. Students secure these internships through Columbia’s extensive alumni network.
Stanford students can complete strategic communications education via a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or executive Master of Science (MSx). The MBA is a two-year program while the MSx only take one year—it’s also designed for mid-career students. In the MBA, you’ll learn more about business management and strategy. Students in both programs receive coaching in areas like writing, speaking, and balancing school with life.
At the University of Oregon, students can complete required coursework (and even electives) online. Oregon caters to students with full-time jobs by offering a part-time option. Accelerated degree options are available. Those interested in the developing media landscape can pursue an Immersive Media specialization, which includes coursework on subjects like virtual and augmented reality or 360 videos. Graduates have gone on to have careers like founding an agency, working as a brand strategist, and producing podcasts.
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