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Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations Managers

The fundamental objective of any firm is to market its products or services profitably. In very small firms, all marketing responsibilities may be assumed by the owner or chief executive officer. In large firms, which may offer numerous products and services nationally or even worldwide, experienced marketing, advertising, and public relations managers coordinate these and related activities.

In large firms, the executive vice-president for marketing directs the overall marketing policy--including marketing strategy, sales, advertising, sales promotion, and public relations activities. These activities are supervised by middle and supervisory managers who oversee staffs of professionals and technicians.

Marketing managers--also known as product group managers--develop the firm's detailed marketing strategy. With the help of subordinates, including product managers and market research managers, they determine the demand for the firm's products and services and identify potential consumers--for example, career firms, wholesalers, retailers, government, or the general public. Marketing managers develop pricing strategy with an eye towards maximizing the firm's share of the market and ultimately its profits. In collaboration with sales, product, and other managers, they monitor trends that indicate the need for the new products and services and oversee product development. Marketing managers work with advertising and sales promotion managers to best describe the firm's products and services and sway potential users.

Sales managers direct the firm's sales program. They assign sales territories and goals and establish training programs for their sales representatives. In large, multiproduct firms, they oversee regional and local sales managers and their staffs. Sales managers maintain contact with dealers and distributors. They analyze sales statistics gathered by their staffs to determine sales potential and inventory requirements and monitor the preferences of customers to decide which products to develop and which to discontinue-- information that is vital to the firm's market research activities. Except in the largest firms, advertising and sales promotion staffs are generally small and serve as a liaison between the firm and the advertising or sales promotional agency to which most advertising or promotional functions are contracted out. Advertising mangers oversee the account services, creative services, and media services departments. The account services department is managed by account executives, who assess the need for advertising and, in advertising agencies, maintain the accounts of clients. The creative services department--which develops the subject matter and presentation of advertising--is supervised by a creative director, who oversees the copy chief and art director and their staffs. The media services department is supervised by the media director, who oversees planning groups which select the communication media--for example, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, or signs--to disseminate the advertising.

Sales promotion managers--who supervise staffs of sales promotion specialists-- direct sales promotion programs, which combine advertising with financial incentives to increase sales of products and services. In an effort to establish closer contact with purchasers--dealers, distributors, or consumers--sales promotion programs may involve direct mail, catalogs, exhibits, and special events. Financial incentives may include discounts, samples, gifts, and contests.

Public relations managers--who supervise staffs of public relations specialists--direct publicity programs designed to promote, using any necessary communication media, the image of the firm to various groups such as consumers, stockholders, or the general public. For example, public relations managers may clarify or justify the firm's point of view on health or environmental issues to community or special interest groups. In large product- oriented firms--such as motor vehicle manufacturers--they may evaluate advertising and sales promotion programs for compatibility with public relations efforts. In service-oriented firms--such as airlines--they may supervise many of the advertising and promotional activities. Public Relations managers may confer with labor relations managers to produce internal company communications--such as news about employee-management relations-- and with financial managers to produce company reports. Public relations managers may assist company executives in drafting speeches, arranging interviews, and other forms of public contact. They may oversee company archives and respond to information requests.

Working Conditions

Marketing, advertising, and public relations managers are provided with offices close to top managers and to the departments they direct. Long hours, including evenings and weekends, are usual. Working under pressure is unavoidable as schedules change, problems arise, and deadlines and sales goals must be met. Marketing, advertising, and public relations managers meet frequently with other managers, the public, or government officials.

Substantial travel may be involved. For example, attendance at meetings sponsored by associations or industries is often mandatory. Sales managers travel to national, regional, and local offices and to various dealers and distributors. Advertising and sales promotion managers may travel to meet with clients or representatives of communications media. Public relations managers may travel to meet with special interest groups or government officials. Job transfers between headquarters and regional offices are common--particularly among sales managers--and may disrupt family life.


Marketing, advertising, and public relations managers held about 408,000 jobs in 1990. These managers are found in virtually every industry. Industries employing them in significant numbers include motor vehicle dealers, department stores; computer and data processing services firms; radio and television broadcasting stations; and educational institutions.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Most employers prefer that marketing, advertising, and public relations managers have a broad liberal arts background. A bachelor's degree in sociology, psychology, literature, or philosophy is acceptable. However, requirements vary depending upon the particular job.

For marketing and sales management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor's or master's degree in career administration with an emphasis on marketing. Courses in career law, economics, accounting, finance, mathematics, and statistics are also highly recommended. In highly technical industries, such as aircraft and guided missile manufacturing, a bachelor's degree in engineering or science combined with a master's degree in career administration may be preferred. For advertising and sales promotion management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor's degree in advertising. The curriculum should include courses in marketing, consumer behavior, communications methods and technology, and visual arts courses--for example, art history and photography. For public relations management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor's or master's degree in public relations or journalism. The curriculum should include course in advertising, career administration, public affairs, political science, and creative and technical writing. Familiarity with computerized word processing applications is important for many marketing, advertising, and public relations management positions.

Most marketing, advertising, and public relations management positions are filled by promoting experienced staff or related professional or technical personnel--for example, sales representatives, purchasing agents, buyers, advertising workers, and public relations specialists. In small firms, where the number of positions is limited, advancement to a management position may come slowly. In large firms, promotion may occur more quickly.

Although experience, ability, and leadership are emphasized for promotion, advancement may be accelerated by participation in management training programs conducted by many large firms. Many firms also provide their employees with continuing education opportunities, either in-house or at local colleges and universities, and encourage employee participation in seminars and conferences. In addition, numerous marketing and related associations, often in collaboration with colleges and universities, sponsor national or local training programs. Their schools, located throughout the country, deal with different phases of management activities. Persons enrolled attend sessions on subjects such as brand and product management, international marketing, sales management evaluation, telemarketing and direct sales, marketing communication, organizational communication, and data processing systems procedures and management. Many firms pay all or part of the cost for those who successfully complete courses.

Persons interested in becoming marketing, advertising, and public relations managers should be mature, creative, highly motivated, resistant to stress, and flexible, yet decisive. The ability to communicate persuasively, both orally and in writing, with other managers, staff, and the public is vital. Marketing, advertising, and public relations managers also need tact, good judgement, and exceptional ability to establish and maintain effective personal relationships with supervisory and professional staff members and client firms.

Job Outlook

Employment of marketing, advertising, and public relations managers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2000 as increasingly intense domestic and foreign competition in products and services offered consumers requires greater marketing and promotional efforts. In addition to rapid growth, many job openings will occur each year to replace managers who move into top management positions or leave the labor force. However, the ample supply of experienced professional and technical personnel and recent college graduates with extensive experience who possess a high level of creativity and strong communications skills should have the best job opportunities.

Projected employment growth varies by industry. For example, employment of marketing, advertising, and public relations managers is expected to grow the most rapidly in the data processing services industry in response to the increasing use of computers. Much faster than average employment growth is also expected in other career services industries, including advertising agencies, public relations firms, and establishments offering direct mail, commercial photography, art, and graphics services, as firms increasingly find it cost-efficient to contract out these services. Very rapid growth is also expected in the radio and television broadcasting industry as this communication medium is increasingly used, and in the travel, hotel, restaurant, and amusement and recreation services industries as personal incomes and leisure time increase. On the other hand, employment is expected to grow only about as fast as the average for all occupations in the educational services industry--in line with school enrollment projections--and in hospitals as more medical care is provided by out-patient care clinics and other health care establishments. Declining employment is projected in some manufacturing industries.


The medium annual salary of marketing, advertising, and public relations managers was $38,700 in 1990. The lowest 10 percent earned $20,500 or less, while the top 10 percent earned well over $55,100. Salaries between $79,500 and $106,000 are not uncommon. Many earn bonuses equal to 10 percent or more of their salaries. Salary levels vary substantially depending upon the level of managerial responsibility, length of service, and size and location of the firm. For sales managers, the extent of their sales territory is another important factor.

Like other managers, marketing, advertising and public relations managers typically receive a range of fringe benefits that includes health and life insurance, vacation and sick leave, and a pension, among others.

Related Occupations

Marketing, Advertising, and public relations managers supervise the sale of products and services offered by their firms and the communication of information about their firms' activities. Other personnel involved with marketing, advertising, and public relations include art directors, commercial and graphic artists, copy chiefs, copywriters, editors, lobbyists, market research analysts, public relations specialists, sales promotion specialists, sales representatives, and technical writers. Sources of Additional Information

For information about careers in sales and marketing management, contact:

Sales and Marketing Executives, International, 446 Statler Office Tower, Cleveland, OH 44115.

For information about careers in advertising management, contact:

American Association of Advertising Agencies, 666 Third Ave., 13th Floor, New York, NY 10017.

American Advertising Federation, 1400 K St. NW., Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005.

Information about careers in sales promotion management is available from:

Council of Sales Promotion Agencies, 176 Madison Ave., Fifth Floor, New York, NY 10016.

Promotion Marketing Association of America, Inc., 322 Eighth Ave., Suite 1201, New York, NY 10001.

Information about careers in public relations management is available from:

Public Relations Society of America, 33 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003.


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