Marketing and PR

 12 March 2013

Public relations staff work with the press and organise events to shape a site's media profile. Marketing is about making sure the public is talking about a brand, often through advertising.

PR and Marketing need to maintain good relationships with their contacts. Image: Birmingham Museums and Trust.
PR and Marketing need to maintain good relationships with their contacts. Image: Birmingham Museums and Trust.

What do they do?

Public relations

Public relations workers shape the media profile of the organisation they work for. Public Relations, otherwise known as PR, relies on attracting the right attention by working with the press to present their chosen image.

This can be done by approaching the media with stories, but also by organising events that show off the side of the organisation you want people to see.

Marketing

You will need to be able to manage your time effectively, be flexible and cope well with pressure.

Marketing is similar, but has a stronger emphasis on selling a product, often using advertising.

Marketing is about making sure the public is talking about a brand, which for the heritage sector could be a museum or charity.

The two fields are closely related. Many heritage organisations rely on ticket sales or charitable donations for their income. Good marketing and PR are essential for making sure they can continue their work.

What is the job like?

Communication

Both marketing and PR work are about communication. Some of this is written, for example developing the copy for a new advert or writing a statement for the press. 

There is also a strong verbal component. In PR, you need to talk to journalists to arrange interviews or get coverage. The journalists will be getting calls from many other PR workers, so you need to be persistent and polite.

Targeting an audience

In marketing, you decide who your target audience is and how you will reach them. You also set prices and decide how you want a product to be seen.

This involves a lot of planning and research, which will often be done in collaboration with other departments.

Maintaining good relationships

Having friendly people who can help you get your information out is important, and maintaining good relationships with contacts is a big part of your work. You may travel to them or invite them to events.

The work requires great attention to detail and an up-to-date understanding of media technology and sales strategies. The hours can be very long, especially if you have to handle a major story in the press or around the time of a big event. 

You will need to be able to manage your time effectively, be flexible and cope well with pressure.

In a smaller museum, both PR and marketing might be done by a single department or even a single person.

How do I start a career in PR or marketing for heritage?

There is no set career path into PR or marketing. You would probably start as an assistant and could rise to become head of a department over ten years or more.

Building up experience through volunteer work or internships is a good start. It’s also an excellent way of making contacts in the PR and marketing world, which will help you later.

Contact your local museums to see what’s on offer.

For marketing and PR, where written communication is a huge part of your work, having an excellent CV is vital. It’s your first chance to show them how you set about marketing something, in this case yourself.

What qualifications and training do I need?

Many people starting their careers in PR or marketing have a Bachelors degree in a subject like english, marketing or media. A degree isn’t essential, but the field is very competitive and it pays to stand out.

How much can I earn?

The average starting salary for a marketing assistant is just over £19,000 a year. The career average is about £32,000.

Typical entry-level salaries for PR are also around £19,000, rising to around £30,000 after a few years of experience.

Top level directors can have salaries between £40,000 and £100,000 a year. However, the heritage sector is not, as a rule, as well paid as private or public sector work.


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