Communications: Advertising, Marketing and PR

Communications (Comms)

Communication professionals focus on conveying information, building relationships, and maintaining a positive public image for an organization or brand. Effective communication is essential for conveying messages both internally to employees and externally to customers, stakeholders, and the public. Communication activities include creating content for websites and social media, designing, and circulating external and internal newsletters, and engaging with the public through various communication channels.


Working in advertising involves the process of developing strategies, (e.g. where to place an ad), market research (e.g. who the ad is most likely to appeal to), and producing a creative idea (e.g. copywriting or design). The main goal is to capture the attention of a target audience and persuade them to take a specific action, such as making a purchase Advertising involves developing ad campaigns, slogans, visuals, and selecting appropriate advertising channels, including TV, radio, print, digital media, or outdoor advertising.

Marketing and Market Research

Marketing encompasses a broader set of activities aimed at identifying and satisfying customer needs and preferences. It is the job of a marketer to understand consumer behaviours and market trends to develop strategies that drive sales and brand awareness. Marketing activities include market research, product development, pricing strategies, distribution, branding, and promotional campaigns. Marketers often collaborate closely with advertising, communication, and public relations professionals to implement their strategies.

Public Relations (PR)

Public relations professionals focus on managing an organization's reputation and building positive relationships with the public, media, and other stakeholders. PR is often concerned with maintaining a positive public image and handling crises effectively. PR activities include drafting press releases, organizing press conferences, managing media inquiries, conducting reputation management, and developing crisis communication plans.

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The most popular roles in the industry are listed below along with the type of work involved. Each company may refer to these roles with slightly different job titles and in many cases a role may combine two or more areas, particularly if the company is smaller:


  • Account Executive/Manager: Responsible for managing client relationships, understanding their needs, and ensuring that advertising campaigns meet their objectives.
  • Creative Director/Art Director: Involved in the creative process, developing advertising concepts, and crafting compelling ad content.
  • Data Analyst/Strategist: Analyzes data to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns and provides insights for optimization.
  • Media Planner/Buyer: Focuses on selecting the right media channels and negotiating ad placements to reach the target audience effectively.


  • Content Writer/Editor: Develops and executes internal and external communication strategies for the organization. Creates written content for various communication channels, including websites, newsletters, and social media.
  • Social Media Assistant/Officer/Manager: Manages the organization's social media presence, develops content, and engages with the online community.

Marketing and Market Research

  • Brand Manager: Manages and enhances the brand identity of the organization or product.
  • Digital Marketing Specialist: Focuses on online marketing channels, including SEO, SEM, social media, and email marketing. Can include content creation.
  • Marketing Assistant/Officer: Assists the team with all marketing related administration and support.
  • Marketing Manager/Director: Leads marketing teams, develops marketing strategies, and manages marketing campaigns. Drives marketing efforts for specific products or services, including market research, positioning, and promotion.
  • Market Research Analyst: Collects and analyzes data to understand market trends, customer preferences, and competitive landscapes.

Public Relations

  • Crisis Communications Specialist: Manages and mitigates communication during crisis situations to protect the organization's reputation.
  • Event Planner/Coordinator: Organizes and manages PR events, press conferences, and product launches.
  • Media Relations Specialist: Focuses on building and maintaining relationships with media outlets and securing positive media coverage.
  • Public Relations Assistant/Manager/Director: Manages the reputation of an organization by crafting and distributing press releases, organizing events, and handling media relations.

Most opportunities do not require a specific degree discipline but some organisations will look for the specialist knowledge base provided by particular degree (i.e economics, psychology etc). Postgraduate studies at Master’s or DPhil level, including research or statistics, can also provide a useful background - particularly for market research roles.

Small firms will hire individuals at entry level when there is business demand and as such this will be on an ad-hoc basis. For job titles, se above,

Larger firms offer graduate training programmes which usually open sometime between September and November, with a company taking on anything from two to ten new graduates. Postgraduate qualifications are not an entry requirement, however, there are a number of specialist postgraduate courses that are CIPR accredited. Look carefully at destinations of alumni from the course to balance the financial commitment with the potential reward.


The skills required in advertising, communications, marketing, and PR  are as varied as the industry itself. They need people who are interested in consumer markets and fascinated by advertising and the media. Companies look for individuals who can relate to their clients and help them achieve their business objectives. Certain skills are broadly common to all work within the sector, but some will depend on the role in question:

  • Ability to link a creative solution to a business problem.
  • Understanding and love of brands.
  • Ability to work under pressure as part of a team.
  • Ability to communicate – verbally and in writing - articulately with people at all levels.
  • A rigorous and creative approach to problem solving.
  • Strong lateral and logical thinking skills.
  • An open and enquiring mind.
  • Entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Persuasive and diplomatic.
  • Well-organised with an eye for detail.
  • Digital media insight.
  • Creative design skills/qualifications (for creative roles)

Keep up to date with what is going on in the industry and regularly read Campaign, the weekly industry journal for a list of jobs. 

Making sure you can comment on recent campaigns. It does not matter whether you like the advertisement or not, or whether you buy the product. What matters is that you should be able to prove that you have thought critically and intelligently about the campaign. You could even write a blog to review recent campaigns, try using WordPress or Tumblr to get you started.

Making use of forums and blogs. You will be expected to have a good understanding of different social networks and media, so finding advertising blogs is a great way to do some research.

Recruiters  will want evidence of your interest in these area, and work experience is central to this. Get involved in activities at university such as: writing for student publications, raising funds and organising events for your college, a charity, drama or sports group. 

The understanding and use of different forms of social media is essential, so get involved in producing your own blog, Twitter feeds, podcasts, and join discussion groups on LinkedIn.

Many firms offer work experience placements throughout the year, or summer internships. The Careers Service offers a number of advertising, communication, marketing and PR related opportunities through the Micro Internship Programme and Summer Internship Programme. Register on The Internship Office for email alerts and use CareerConnect  There is a commitment to increase diversity in the profession and there are a number of organisations that are proactive in this. See Equality, Diversity & Positive Action section for more information.

There is often confusion about whether you should be paid to do an internship or work experience. Internships and summer jobs are governed in the UK by National Minimum Wage law, which means that if you are carrying out activities that class you as a 'worker' by the employer, then you should be paid. Full details of Employment Rights and Pay for Interns are published by the government.

If you are undertaking a learning and development opportunity such as a micro-internship, or volunteering for a charity or statuary body, or shadowing or observing, then you may not be eligible for the National Minimum Wage. The organisation may reimburse you for your travel and/or lunch expenses but they are not obliged to do so


Relevant Student Societies



Entry points can vary within the sector. Below is a list of organizations that regularly hire graduates either through graduate schemes or entry level roles.


Alongside CareerConnect, the job section of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) website. You’ll find agency roles across all the different disciplines from client services to planning and creative, as well as the occasional client-side role.

Additionally, you can search for jobs in The Guardian’s Marketing & PR or Media sections and on Brand Republic, the online portal for industry titles such as Campaign, Marketing and Mediaweek.

A list of those who offer graduate schemes and regularly hire entry level roles include:



Michaelmas Term is an important time for those wanting a role in marketing, or if you are interested in Marketing and Sales with large multinational organisations. Some recruitment deadlines are as early as October and November. Some smaller marketing consultancies (not necessarily restricted to graduates), may become available throughout the year.  The Chartered Institute of Marketing have a useful online resource of Getin2Marketing, and The Institute of Direct Marketing promotes graduate placements, schemes and recruitment agencies. A list of those who offer graduate schemes and regularly hire entry level roles include:

Market Research

The majority of positions are in market research agencies or consultancies ranging from small agencies with only two members of staff offering a specialist service, to the largest companies employing several hundred individuals, so your choices are wide and varied. Most market research firms do not plan their recruitment more than six months in advance and a number recruit all year round. A list of those who offer graduate schemes and regularly hire entry level roles include:

The Market Research Society publishes The Research Buyer’s Guide. This contains details of the majority of UK market research agencies including their size and area of specialisation – useful for speculative applications. Job vacancies can be found on our website, on the Prospects website, and the Guardian. Jobs are also advertised in Marketing Week and on the website of the Social Research Association.

A student level of membership (reduced fees) is available with the Market Research Society.

PR and Communications

Stay up-to-date with the industry, companies and campaigns via  online  blogs and journals such as PRWeek Blogthe Chartered Institute of Public RelationsThe DrumPR Moment and Campaign.

Become a student member of the CIPR and register for the Foundation Certificate. Membership enables you to access training and networking events.

Make speculative applications by registering to access and use PR Week UK Power Book 2023 and PR Week Top 150 UK PR Consultancies 2023.

There are two principal PR trade associations in the UK: the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA). Use these links to research best practice and build up your knowledge of the PR industry.



Alternatively, look at opportunities to work as a advertising/communication/marketing/PR assistant, in smaller firms who do not have enough openings to warrant a formal graduate programme. These may be advertised on relevant careers sites (see external resources at the end of this briefing) or you can approach firms directly (see the separate briefing on making speculative approaches).


  • AdMission – run by the IPA, a professional body representing more than 300 advertising, media and marketing communications agencies across the UK. This website is useful to help you decide what sort of advertising role is right for you. You’ll also find interviews with people working in different types of agencies and different disciplines – from account management to creatives, planners and project managers. There’s also advice on how to get a job in advertising from people who make the hiring decisions in agencies.
  • Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.
  • Brand Republic – excellent resource to get an insight into career profiles, potential employers in the communication sector, campaigns and media spend.
  • The Advertising Association.
  • The Institute of Digital and Direct Marketing.
  • Design and Art Direction – useful for those interested in copywriting and creative work.
  • AdForum – resources for the worldwide advertising community, list of agencies.
  • Media Circle – for interest in media planning/buying, company profiles and FAQs.
  • Account Planning Group – for information on courses, awards and networking.
  • Adage – useful information resource for advertising and marketing news.


Sector Vacancies

Institutes and organisations

Market Research

Occupational Information

Associations and Societies

Public Relations (PR)

Associations and Societies

Journals and online resources

Sector Vacancies

Recruiters are keen to have a diverse workforce and many will have policies and processes that are proactive in recruiting students and graduates from diverse backgrounds. An increasing number of recruiters are offering traineeships, internships and Insight events and many are being recognized for their approach to being inclusive employers. To find out the policies and attitudes of the recruiters that you are interested in, explore their equality, diversity and inclusion policy. Search their website to see if they have any specific staff networks, look out for external accreditation such as whether they are a Disability Confident employer, a Stonewall Diversity Champion or part of the Mindful Employer charter promoting mental health at work. Check to see if they are partnering with organisations such as Rare Recruitment, SEO London, MyPlus Students' Club (disability), EmployAbility (disability and neurodifference) and there are many more that are working for specific communities. A key place to look is to see what they do to celebrate diversity on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

The UK Equality Act 2010 has a number of protected characteristics to prevent discrimination due to your age, disability,  gender reassignment, race, religion or beliefs, sex or sexual orientation. For further information on the Equality Act 2010 and to find out where and how you are protected, and what to do if you feel you have been discriminated against, visit the Government’s webpages on discrimination.

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