Marketing, advertising and PR

Media buying: graduate area of work

A media buyer's job is to negotiate the price of and purchase television or radio airtime and advertising space within newspapers, magazines and other printed publications.

What it involves

Advertising agencies employ media buyers to negotiate the best price, quality and placement of advertisements. As most of their work is conducted by telephone, good verbal communication skills, the ability to quickly assimilate large amounts of information and decisiveness are critical to the job.

Advertising costs are rarely constant, particularly for television broadcasts, where prices are related to viewing figures. Media buyers must keep abreast of fluctuations in popularity ratings and maintain good relationships with media sales staff to ensure they obtain the best airtime slots. Starting salaries are often low and career progression may be linked to performance.

What's required

Employers often value commercial awareness, appropriate skills and personality more highly than qualifications. Consequently, any degree discipline is acceptable for entry into the profession, although journalism, psychology, business studies, public relations, media studies, marketing or management qualifications can be helpful.

Potential employees should have confidence, the ability to cope with pressure, good numerical and data management skills and effective organisational abilities. A good appreciation of what working within advertising involves is helpful, making relevant paid or voluntary work experience desirable. A small number of agencies offer vacation placements.

Where to find out more

Vacancies, particularly training places, attract intense competition. Most opportunities are located in London and major cities. Some agencies operate graduate recruitment schemes for which early applications are advisable (contact your careers service for details, or refer to the IPA's 'Advertising Fact File').

Publications advertising vacancies include national newspapers, Campaign, The Drum, Marketing, Media Week, and Marketing Week. Many posts are never advertised, so speculative applications are essential - Advertisers Annual and BRAD Advertiser and Agency List may be useful for these.