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
- 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 www.bectu.org.uk
The Publishers Association www.publishers.org.uk
Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders www.sfep.org.uk
Eloise, City University
"Technically, working as a writer and researcher wasn’t my first graduate job. After finishing my classics degree and the GDL, and deciding I didn’t want to be a lawyer after all, I did some freelance work editing, proof-reading, writing some non-fiction (something of an accident, but a fortunate one, which grew out of a publishing internship), and working with a web designer and author on an author's website.
However, I wanted a full-time job, something more certain, so after seeing an advert in the jobs section of a newspaper, I became a writer and researcher for an American guide to legal professionals. Lawyers, wannabe lawyers and relatives of lawyers will probably know all about this guide. For the uninitiated, they’re comprehensive legal directories offering an in-depth guide to the best lawyers in various geographical areas and market sectors. The research is conducted through in-depth phone interviews with a cross-section of lawyers in a particular area and their clients, with the intention of gaining an overview of the market and the key players within it; every researcher and writer is assigned several sections, such as Labor & Employment in California. This was the first part of my job; the second was to collate the comments gathered through research (using the specially designed database), decide which firms and lawyers merited inclusion in the guide, and write a concise overview of their practices including particular specialties, strengths, and anonymous quotes gathered through research. During my time there, I was also responsible for copy-editing various sections of the US guide and writing editorial for sections researched by colleagues on the US, UK and Global guides.
As a first job, it was a great introduction and CV booster which combined skills and knowledge I already had with the chance to develop new skills (the law diploma wasn’t a necessity, but did help.) The ability to build a rapport with and elicit useful information from senior lawyers and industry figures, sometimes within a very short space of time, is an extremely valuable one, and probably the most useful I gained from this job specifically. Other skills, such as organisation and time management (useful when writing editorial for one section while organising and conducting interviews for another), and the ability to write concisely and in an appropriate and literate style, had been mostly developed during my classics degree and law diploma, and will be useful whatever I choose to do – though my time here certainly helped with this too.
I also liked that the job didn’t tie me in to a fixed contract or path, and was a good chance to meet new people and to network – I still keep in touch with several former colleagues. I’ve now gone freelance, focusing on digital and offline marketing for the publishing industry. I work on a freelance basis for a small e-book company and also hope to get a part-time job doing similar work at another publisher, or editorial work. These are all areas where my experience, as well as previous freelance experience and my qualifications, will prove useful."
Uzma, Brunel University
"My first job after university didn’t happen to be in the same city, let alone the same country, where I grew up. I finished my thesis in January 2006, spent a few weeks home and went to Antwerp for a few days away. I sent a few cover letters to some consultancies; I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had just completed a degree in Politics followed by a Masters in Public Affairs and was quite keen to head into London as my friends were all working there. I arrived home still puzzled as to what I should do and surprisingly I received a few requests for interviews in Belgium. I headed back for some interviews treating it like another holiday and I accepted the second job offered to me at a top Communications agency in Brussels.
I just immersed myself into this new job and took on all the challenges they gave me, which was the easiest way to learn so much and it improved my CV and made me quite likeable as I said yes to pretty much any project, as a result I got to travel to places like Cape Town, Switzerland, UK and France to work on some amazing clients. The role began with media monitoring to develop a better understanding of all the clients, this led onto writing media pieces for clients and developing stakeholder mapping for clients. My role changed as I grew and according to team size. The multi-sector experience alongside the communications, marketing and social media played a crucial role when applying for new jobs. The “open to try anything” attitude helped a lot in my first job as we were ultimately early adopters for social media, which has now helped me in my current job. Ultimately I am now still living in Brussels 5 years later and have changed jobs to the British business network and get to meet new people everyday."