Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Brian Macken from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Brian Macken

Science Communicator

Smart Futures

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  Brian Macken

I would strongly advise you to do the Masters in Science Communication in DCU. It really gives you a feel for the different kinds of media and ways of explaining things. And it's a good place to make contacts, which is also useful.

I would also recommend that you read science books. Not textbooks, good popular science books are just as useful for this kind of work, as it's already been broken down into simpler language for you. And only read the ones that you're interested in - it shouldn't be a chore to read them.

But I would recommend reading outside your subject area, so if you're into physics, then read some books on biology and vice versa (everyone should read Stephen J. Gould).  However, the more knowledge you have, the more questions you'll be able to answer.

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Enterprising 
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and like commerce, trade and making deals. Some are drawn to sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or managing a section in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented, and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.

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Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations

Advertising, Marketing and PR is about communicating the benefits of products and services to us, the consumers. The aim of all three areas is to help businesses to connect with their audience and to promote products, brands and messages to them. Advertising, Marketing and PR agencies do this by trying to understand what it is that motivates people to buy.

This is a dynamic sector - it is constantly innovating and changing in response to the changing habits of consumers.  
There has been huge investment in finding ways to enhance brand communications online and to engage with an increasingly technologically savvy audience. As a result, new companies and new jobs are being created to keep up with the growing demand. It is an exciting area to work in. It requires versatility and a willingness to constantly update your skills to keep abreast of the latest developments.


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ADVERTISING

We like to think that we are immune to the persuasive powers of advertising and marketing, but in reality we are not. Just think of the amount of exposure you get on a daily basis, through advertising materials - billboards, TV, radio, magazines, direct mail, shop front displays all influence our decisions when purchasing clothes, food, cars, music and everyday items. Even our holiday destinations are influenced by advertising.  Universal access to the internet and social media now means that we are surrounded by advertising - 24/7.

Successful advertising should grab our attention, stick in our minds and most importantly, influence us to buy the product. Advertising is a huge area and it will continue to grow alongside consumerism.

Sector Regulation
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) is the independent body responsible for promoting the highest standards in advertising, promotional marketing and direct marketing.

The ASAI is self-regulatory. This means the advertising industry adopted standards drawn up by, and on behalf of all advertising interests. The standards are enforced through the commitment and cooperation of advertisers, agencies and media.

Below are some of the many different job roles in advertising:

Account Manager
Represents the client at an advertising agency and plays a key role in the development of the advertising campaign. Account Managers/Handlers are responsible for developing an in-depth understanding of the client's marketplace, their business, their objectives and then working closely with planners to translate the brief into agency creative briefs. Their job involves dealing with almost every department in managing the whole advertising process.

Strategic Planner
Strategic planners represent the consumer. People in this job are typically trained researchers and are responsible for bringing a whole consumer perspective to the communications process.

Strategic Planners develop the key strategic insight behind the advertising idea. To do this, they need to understand as much as possible about the consumer, or target market. They work closely with the client to research the market, using and commissioning quantitative and qualitative data research. The Planner will then write and present a strategy for the advertiser in response to the findings i.e. hopes, fears, behaviour, of the consumer base. 



Media Planner
Planners in a media agency will take a brief from the client which highlights the message they want to communicate to the consumer, in accordance with a particular budget or planned spend on the campaign. Together with the strategic planning people, the Media Planner will identify the optimum target audience, develop a close understanding of this audience's media habits and use this information to create a media plan and identify the channels that should be used to maximise the creative idea that will best connect with the target audience.

The Creative Department
The creative department of an advertising agency is where the advertising campaign comes together. Creatives generally work in pairs e.g. a Copywriter and an Art Director. They take the client brief and work with it to invent ideas to address the brand's business issue. Next, they work with media planners/buyers and the production department to turn the ideas generated into a reality.



An Art director is usually, but not always, art-college trained. The role of the Art Director is to respond to the creative brief by communicating ideas or moods visually.



A Copywriter may have graduated with a degree in any of a number of subject areas, but may just as easily be art-college trained too. It's not the qualification that's important — success in this field is based on creative talent. The copywriter's role is to respond to a creative brief by communicating ideas in written or verbal form. To get a job as a creative, the most important thing is your 'book' — the portfolio of your ads and work to date to showcase your talent.

Creative Services & Production Department
This is where art and creativity meet reality and commerce! - where ad campaigns are made, and make money. People working in this area need a variety of skills.

Most other disciplines within an advertising agency are pretty much set in stone, but creative services differ across advertising agencies. The following job roles typically come under creative services: 
  • Creative Services Director
  • Creative Services Manager
  • Art Buying
  • TV Production
  • Studio Project Management
  • Traffic Management and
  • Print Production.
Creative Services Director – manages all resource, ensures that the department is running efficiently and all costs spent are competitive and output is to the very highest standard. 



Creative Services Manager – people in this job role report to the Creative Services Director and take on shared responsibility and day-to-day issues in getting the project to completion. 



Art buyer – provides the creative team with a variety of photographers and illustrators that will execute the ad in the most beautiful and effective way possible. The Art Buyer manages the pre-production meetings where all aspects of the shoot are approved, e.g. casting, styling, location etc. 



TV Production Department
This department normally has a TV Producer and Production Assistants. The department is responsible for the production of all TV commercials, cinema advertising, virals, radio and mood films - basically it handles anything moving or with sound. 



Studio Project Manager – this job role handles the workload going in and out of the studio. The Project Manager's role is to oversee timing and production budgets and drive the project through to completion. They must ensure that deadlines are kept and at every stage of the process and communication between the account team and creatives.



Traffic Manager – ensures that all briefs go through the Creative Department smoothly. They have to manage the time of the Creative Team Members, juggle their workloads and allocate briefs with the Creative Services Director. 



Production Manager – The Production manager is responsible for the output from all advertising campaigns.
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MARKETING

People think of "Marketing" and Advertising as one and the same, but they are not. Advertising is simply one of the business activities that makes up the field of marketing.

Marketing is a broad area. For those interested in working in marketing there will be opportunities to work either in-house for a company, or for an agency who provides marketing services.

The following are key areas:

  • Advertising
  • Brand management
  • Direct marketing
  • Marketing communications i.e. online marketing, social media
  • Market research

Advertising and Public Relations functions are often performed by outside agencies that specialise in those areas, while overall marketing functions are usually performed in-house in large or medium-sized companies and corporations by the Marketing Department. Smaller companies that don't have an in-house marketing department will contract-in an outside marketing firm to handle their marketing needs. The majority of marketing jobs are found within larger companies and not at marketing firms.

Certain marketing roles are closely related to sales, while others are more involved with the strategic aspects of the job. The marketing department of a large organisation is like the centre of a wagon wheel with each spoke connected to other departments (in-side and out-side of the company) including sales, production, research, advertising, etc. The centre of the wheel connects the various parts so they work in harmony. 

Marketing involves a lot of research into customers’ likes, dislikes and preferences. Marketing also identifies who exactly should be the customer. That is, what groups within society should particular products be aimed at. Market research is used extensively used to seek out the 'image' which appeals to the consumer. The pair of jeans, the mobile phone, the holiday abroad, the car - these are often purchased based on their image and on how they make us feel as much as anything else. Marketing strategies are then used to advertise the services or package the products in user friendly ways that appeal to the target consumer group. 

The following are some of the job roles typically found in marketing:

Marketing Director - may help the sales force reassess how they target potential clients or may be involved in the development of a new product to insure that consumer expectations (and needs) are being met. May suggest a new feature be added to an existing product based on feedback from the sales staff or review potential ads submitted from the ad firm she hired.

Marketing Manager - responsible for the strategic direction of all marketing activity on specific products and services.

Marketing Co-ordinator - Co-ordinates the marketing activities of the marketing team.

Marketing Executive - varied role which includes implementation of marketing projects to support the brand. The work of a marketing executive is often challenging and fast-paced.

Social Media Co-ordinator - Job is to integrate the organisation’s social media strategy, increase brand awareness, provide inbound traffic and boost the adoption of relevant social media techniques.

Larger companies tightened their marketing budgets during the recession years and many reduced their staff. However, the fast changing world of technology is also changing the face of consumerism, pushing the requirement for investment in marketing activities to increase again.

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PUBLIC RELATIONS

Public Relations, or PR as it is commonly known, is the discipline that looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. 

PR is a planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill between an organisation and the audiences that are important to it. These audiences – also called publics – include existing and potential customers, employees, investors, the media, government, suppliers and opinion-formers.

The following are some of the job roles typically found in PR:

PR Officer -  uses all forms of media and communication to build, maintain and manage the reputation of clients, who can range from public bodies or services to businesses and voluntary organisations. Work includes communicating key messages, often using third party endorsements, to defined target audiences in order to establish and maintain goodwill and understanding between an organisation and its public. The PR officer will also monitor publicity and conduct research to find out the concerns and expectations of an organisation's stakeholders. They then report and explain the findings to its management.

PR officers often work in-house and can be found in both the private and public sector organisations. They may also be based in PR consultancies.

Press officer - Liaises with the media, fielding their questions and queries for a particular employer, product or person. A press officer would also write press releases, organise press conferences and assess media coverage. 

Public relations account executive - Promotes the reputation of a product or person through news items, without the use of advertising. This could involve product placement and news articles which contain no cost. It also involves liaising with the client and writing reports to inform them what effect the PR is having on their personal, company or product's reputation.

Public affairs consultant - Keeps informed with political news. Role involves offering political and public policy advice to a range of employers. The Public Affairs Consultant liaises with and builds relationships with key stakeholders in the decision-making process in European, national, regional and local government bodies.

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