How to Start a Career in Integrated Marketing Communications
Apple is well known for its top-notch branding, whether it’s a commercial on YouTube or a targeted campaign on social media luring you to purchase the latest iPhone. But they’ve also made their most dedicated fans into brand ambassadors. Just try telling a Mac user to switch to a PC; they’ll block you on social media and pretend they don’t know you at parties.
Such is the power of integrated marketing communications.
Many marketing and communications jobs tend to focus on one aspect of marketing – web, digital marketing, print services, etc. – and they work separately instead of coming together to coordinate the messages they’re sending out.
Integrated marketing communications, or IMC, integrates these separate marketing entities into a single voice.
Getting a strong educational background in IMC will lay the groundwork for a career in the field. The KU Edwards Campus offers an on-campus Masters of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications that gives graduate students hands-on experience in all aspects to master marketing communication.
KUEC’s IMC master’s degree program is one of the first and most recognizable IMC programs in the country, attracting some of the most talented and diverse professional grad students from a wide variety of backgrounds. These courses are aimed at working professionals looking to advance their career by earning a master’s degree.
Creating a global communications strategy
IMC is the reason that Apple has so many ride-or-die fans. In 1997, after Steve Jobs returned to Apple, his public relations team turned a company that was a shadow of its former self into a tech giant. Their social media managers regularly create trending topics across all platforms and ride them to the top of the trending page, and their strategic communicators leap into action during a PR crisis.
Armed with mastery in words and images, a faculty for understanding data and marketing strategy, and a flair for creative communication, marketing communicators are wildly versatile. They create persuasive and interesting copy for ads and webpages, video for social media, and graphic design for all of the above. Copywriters are a perfect example of marketing communicators: They write blog posts like this one to inform and communicate!
Here’s how IMC works, and how you can make a career out of it.
What exactly is integrated marketing communications?
The American Marketing Association defines integrated marketing communications as “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.”
IMC takes a holistic approach, pulling together all the marketing teams in a company – PR, digital marketing, strategic communications, digital media, marketing analytics – to unify the company’s brand and messaging. They make the company’s message consistent across all marketing channels and strengthens the company’s brand.
What does a marketing communicator do?
How do you master integrated marketing communications?
- You’ll need to be able to mix the analytic side of your mind, which understands the data and analytics and uses them to create a communication strategy – with the creative side, which comes up with new visions and surprising but cool ideas.
- You’ll need a comprehensive understanding of all communication forms and how they work: social media, direct marketing, advertising, digital marketing, public relations, viral marketing, etc. – and you’ll need to know how to put them all together into a seamless brand experience for the customer base.
- You’ll need to keep up with the latest technology and how it can reach customers.
Integrated marketing communication is an in-demand, lucrative field. According to Glassdoor, an IMC manager can earn, on average, $85K to $102K per year, and directors average even more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that integrated marketing communications jobs should grow between 13 and 32 percent through 2024.
Where do marketing communicators work?
Really, where don’t they work? Companies like Cola-Cola, Nike, and Apple have a huge market presence because they painstakingly integrated their brand across every channel. Every piece of marketing material underscores their brand in iconic ways.
Not only do big corporations benefit from IMC, but politicians, municipalities, big advertising companies, and small niche media groups do, too.
Jobs that require a good understanding of integrated marketing communications include
- Public relations manager/director
- Chief marketing officer
- Art director
- Marketing communication manager
- Social media manager
- Marketing analyst
- Web content manager
- Marketing consultant (freelancers)
- Digital marketing coordinator
- Freelance marketing and writing
- Film marketing assistant
- SEO/SEM specialist
- Media brand manager
Companies need talented people who can create, execute, and track multi-channel marketing campaigns. They need communicators who can build a brand’s presence across social media and other media outlets, who can understand their audience and how best to target them with campaigns that yield a great return on investment.
The Kansas City metro is teeming with global marketing companies that hire marketing communicators of every stripe, including Barkley, VMLY&R, Hallmark, Black & Veatch, T-Mobile, Garmin, and Cerner, just to name a few.
What education do I need to be an integrated marketing communicator?
A great marketing communicator uses words and images effectively, has a handle on the full range of marketing techniques, and understands how to run a powerful promotional campaign that will inspire brand loyalty. Marketing communicators need a solid education to learn how to identify and target their audience, using quantifiable data to measure the results of their campaigns.
Are you ready to learn more about integrated marketing communications and how the master’s degree in IMC at KUEC can assist you in your career goals? Click here to learn about our program, offered through the world-famous William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which is designed for part-time, evening study to accommodate working adults.
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