In the past, marketing and advertising has been about traditional media, whether in print or on TV and radio. The rise of the internet has changed all that. Banner advertising, social media platforms, blogs and even in-game adverts have brought new opportunities to reach consumers and new challenges for marketing departments.
Perhaps the biggest difference with these new digital channels is that many of them are a two-way street. No longer do marketers just pump out their message: they have an opportunity to interact with their customer base. This means that digital communications jobs have become less about selling and more about managing the customer experience, which calls for a new breed of professionals.
Some of the jobs required by this age of online media are in innovative areas. Social media managers, for example, are tasked with looking after the online profile of a business and ensuring that consumer responses and complaints are managed appropriately. A bad initial experience can be turned around if the complaint is managed effectively, making this new field a key part of customer service as well as the marketing strategy.
While technology can allow you to see what's being said about your business, you still need people to watch this information, interpret what's happening, spot trends and respond if required. These analysts are a key part of managing new media effectively. They also need to be able to spot opportunities as new sites emerge and gain traction with consumers.
As well as new digital communications jobs, the rise of online media has brought a new focus to many existing roles. Copywriters, for example, are now focussed on providing fresh content for the web, which consumes material at a rapid rate. Blogs and other online material will need to be kept fresh and up to date if you're to keep people coming back to your site.
Faster internet connections have seen the growth of media such as video as a marketing and communications tool. This means professionals adapting their skills to make the type of short, attention-grabbing material that's suited to online distribution.
Even specialists too may now be focussed more on virtual conferences and webinars than on organising physical shows or symposia. As with many of the tasks here, though, there is an increasing overlap, and professionals need to be aware of how digital communications can feed into the real world and vice versa.
Of course, management needs to adapt to the new age too. If there isn't recognition at the top of the benefits that these internet media opportunities can bring, then they're unlikely to get the support and resources they need to deliver a return on investment.
What is clear is that the need for effective digital communications is growing and that it's here to stay. Specialists in this field will continue to be in demand as businesses seek to exploit the opportunities available to reach customers and make the most effective use of their marketing spend.