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The publishing and media industries represent a popular choice among graduates who recognise a sector that offers the opportunity to develop ideas and be creative, often getting enormous amounts of job satisfaction from seeing something through the entire creative cycle. The publishing and media sectors are seen as exhilarating environments to work in and as a consequence job openings are fiercely contested. Learn more about starting your publishing graduate career below.

The publishing industry covers:
- Books and journals
- Directories and databases
- Magazines
- Newspaper publishing
- Online Publishing 
- Television and radio
- Public and not-for-profit publishing

The media covers a wide and diverse range of occupations, from journalists in print, broadcasting and new media, to designers in arts and textiles, and to entertainers in various performance art fields, as well as technical broadcasting and management related jobs.

The use of media planning and buying is becoming a powerful strategic marketing tool. And today you need to follow one very important guideline. It is not how much money you spend on advertising; it is where you spend your money on advertising. There is a need to build a relationship with the core consumer through their actively consumed media, delivering effective targeting and eliminating the competition from that media environment.

Media planning is the process of establishing objectives and choosing the most suitable means for achieving these objectives. The art of media planning revolves around making the best use of all possible media outlets resulting in having an advert situated in the place where it will be seen by the correct audience. Media buying is the implementation of a media plan. It is the media buying which results in the adverts actually being placed in the correct environment. Media buying uses the same principles whatever media is being purchased.

Around 15 years ago when there was only a relatively simple choice of TV and radio channels, press options, posters and so on. Now, with cable, satellite, and digital television, a proliferation of radio and press media and all the implications of interactive multimedia and the Internet, the choices are increasing remarkably.

As digital technology continues to rapidly grow, and therefore the opportunities for the number of TV channels and radio stations, the size of audiences watching and listening to each individual channel will decrease. This means that it is becoming more and more challenging to reach mass audiences through the use of just one TV show or radio station.

The internet also had a massive effect upon the media world, as it has opened up a whole new range of possibilities. You can now access a huge variety of media through the internet such as radio shows, TV series and newspapers from all over the world. Unfortunately for newspapers and other traditional media outlets, corporate advertisers now rely heavily on using alternative platforms that are are cheaper and more dynamic, particularly online advertising space. Therefore, there is a much higher demand for graduates who have a good understanding of different online media channels.

Average Publishing Graduate Salary

Publishing Graduate Career Path

The first step in any media process is the gathering of information. Everything starts with a brief. Media and publishing strategy requires a thorough understanding of a client's business, the communication objectives and the characteristics of each medium. Strategic planning has become a way of making media more creative.

As a graduate there are four distinct areas where you can find a job in publishing:

  • Editorial - researching, writing and editing text
  • Design - creating and illustrating pages
  • Production - preparing the product for the printer
  • Sales and marketing - selling the product and anticipating the market

There are a number of specialist jobs within publishing, which may be attractive for graduates such as indexers, who compile the indexes of books and periodicals; lexicographers, who are concerned with the writing of dictionary texts; picture researchers and picture editors; and rights management, which is a department that negotiates publishing deals and draws up contracts.

Large book and magazine publishers generally have openings for junior staff such as researchers or sub-editors, but more demanding or experienced (especially those within online publishing) roles are harder to come by. Training and recognised qualifications can be offered by organisations like the National Training Organisation or the National Council for the Training of Journalist, which validates courses. Highly attractive yet competitive schemes are offered by the big media broadcasting companies or consumer and business publishing firms. In recruiting terms the media is often seen as a revolving door; to get a foot in, the best advice is often to aim low and see what is on offer locally with newspapers, radio and TV stations being the first destination. Once you gain a placement or some temporary work you will have to build a reputation, experience and contacts through a combination of networking and freelancing.

A clear career structure exists in larger publishers from: junior editorial level to senior commissioning editor; production assistant to production controller; marketing assistant to marketing manager. In smaller publishers, these roles will be blurred and even crossover. A small employer may provide a more varied role. A number of publishers employ people on a freelance basis for many of the routine tasks such as proofreading and copy-editing. Publishing is a meritocracy. Those with talent and ability can progress very quickly as they prove themselves on successive projects.

Graduates can also find employment in media planning/buying, sales and research within media agencies, owners and consultancies. Research jobs in the media is the process of collating and analysing data in order to help the planners, buyers and sales people at the media owners do their jobs. A media researcher would, for instance be involved in defining the exact target audience for a campaign and determining their exact media consumption. The research is primarily quantitative so you need to be good with numbers and be familiar with certain statistical software packages. Media planners will research potential target markets and assess what might be the best media mix to use to reach the required target market in the brief. They will then liaise with the creative department to decide what form the advertising campaign might take, what is the most suitable media channel to use and how often the advert should appear. Once a media campaign has been planned and agreed a media buyer will then buy the appropriate spots.

Media buyers work very closely with media planners. Their job is to buy media space in whatever medium the adverts are to appear. They try to reach the highest number of people in their target audience at the lowest possible cost.

TV buying revolves around buying 'air time' in advert breaks. The type of audience a particular campaign is aimed at determines the type of TV program that is bought into.

Publishing and media is one of the most competitive industries to break into and is a very popular area with graduates year after year. As a result, jobs in this sector can be poorly-paid but still attract huge numbers of keen, passionate applicants. If you are successful though, there can be a high level of job satisfaction, and recognition on an international scale.

If you do decide that a publishing graduate career in one of these sub-sectors is for you, then you'll need plenty of determination to succeed. Due to the competitive nature of the industry you'll have to persevere and remain optimistic if you want to achieve your ambitions or career goals.

Qualifications and Skills Needed

What proportion of candidates as a percent we place into Publishing graduate careers and the typical qualities graduate employers look for.

GRB Placements for Publishing by Degree

Typical Candidate Attributes

For all publishing sectors, it is essential to have gained some experience of the industry prior to applying for a post. Your interest will need to have run alongside your academic studies. If you have not gained work experience during your studies then you might give serious consideration to postgraduate study. Whilst these do not guarantee entry into the profession at a higher level they do endow students with the skills and awareness to get their first job. 

Generally if you are looking for graduate employment in the media sector it would be advisable to follow these basic guidelines:

  • Get relevant work experience to put on your CV
  • Develop your practical skills
  • Join media societies and take advantage of any opportunities they offer for basic insight, training and networking into the industry
  • Build up a list of contacts and network your way into a role
  • Acquire good secretarial and computer skills
  • Persevere with all your job applications as being determined and strong willed is a key asset

Every year, new recruits within the broadcast media industry show that there are no rules about 'relevant' university qualifications for getting employment. Usually strong grades and a good degree, usually Art, English, Modern Languages, Business or Media may seem the obvious choice for employers. However these degrees may not be of great help to you in the longer term as a specific academic background won't guarantee you work. At least half of the 'career starters' come from backgrounds with no obvious links to the broadcast media. There are many different entry routes into the media industries so plan your route carefully. Many people, whatever they've studied, have to start at the bottom as a 'runner' making the tea, building their experience and making contacts for future work.

Graduates should be very motivated, have excellent communication and negotiation skills, good attention to detail and be able to multi-task. Having an interest in the "written word" and broadcasting would help and perhaps some relevant extra curricular activities to put on your CV would be an advantage. Secretarial skills, such as touch typing and basic spreadsheet knowledge, will give you a head start as an assistant.

Across all the publishing sectors, editorial is the most competitive area to break into. There are few opportunities and competition is stiff. For specialist publishers of any sector, specific knowledge at degree level may be a necessity. This is particularly the case in academic publishing.

Most designers will have studied graphic design and have obtained formal qualifications prior to entry into publishing careers. Website design is becoming increasingly important. 

Entry into sales and marketing relies less on knowledge of publishing and more on business and personal skills. There are a number of training schemes with publishers in sales and marketing, particularly in the magazine and newspaper industries. You must be able to cope in a fast paced environment, have a good head for business and a be able to demonstrate a genuine interest in this sector at an interview.

Sources for Further Information

Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph & Theatre Union 
The Publishers Association
Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders