Why Pursue an MCM Online? These Six Career Paths

View all blog posts under Articles

In any business application, communication skills are vital to success and growth. Many job listings include the need for the ability to communicate well, both written and orally, regardless of what the position is responsible for within the company. Communication skills are especially crucial in certain career paths, which is why many students are pursuing advanced degrees in this area. Some of the most common careers for graduates of an online Master of Communication Management program include those in public relations, communications, marketing, mass media, crisis communication, and content production.

A group of students having a discussion about communication

Image via Flickr by AIT Public Diplomacy

Public Relations

Since communication skills are needed in just about every industry and position, an online Master of Communication Management degree can be beneficial in many professional roles. However, some defined career paths do exist for those who graduate from this program. The first is in public relations. In this type of role, a professional will work with digital and traditional marketing programs to support their clients. They may compose and share press releases, work to improve their clients’ images through online and print media platforms, and implement marketing campaigns.

Many public relations professionals work for agencies that promote individuals or companies via editorial coverage. Examples of editorial coverage include articles in magazines, on websites, and in newspapers, as well as programs on television. Public relations differs from advertising and marketing in that professionals in these roles focus on free or earned media, rather than paid advertisements or media.

In a public relations role, an individual might be responsible for pitching stories about their clients to local and national news outlets, including TV news stations, newspapers, and magazines. According to the Public Relations Society of America, public relations management includes “anticipating, analyzing, and interpreting public opinion, attitudes, and issues that might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization.”

PR also includes counseling management at any level of an organization regarding courses of action, policy decisions, and communications. In order to succeed in this industry, a professional must take into account the citizenship and social responsibilities of an organization, along with the public ramifications of any business decision made by the organization’s leaders. This type of counseling is one of the reasons that good communication skills are so necessary in a PR role.

Public relations positions are further broken down into subcategories, including event management, brand journalism, internal or executive communications, media relations, social media, speech writing, and multimedia.

Communications Director or Manager

Working as a communications manager or director is another potential option for a graduate of the program. In this role, an individual is responsible for overseeing all messaging for a business, as well as developing strategic communications plans and sharing stories and news releases. It’s also important for someone who plans to pursue this career path to gain knowledge of graphics editing, web content management, and desktop publishing software.

Communications directors can work in a number of industries. In politics, a director of communications may serve as a senior aide to a candidate for a political office, an elected official on any level, a judge, or a department. Even the White House has a communications director who is responsible for communicating on behalf of the president of the United States.

In both the private and public sectors, a communications director is responsible for directing and managing the internal and external communications of an organization. In this role, an individual may create strategies for more effective communication, serve as the media contact and key spokesperson, and supervise other members of the communications or public relations department.

Although a master’s degree may not be a requirement in every director-level position, continuing education and experience can increase a candidate’s chance of receiving a job in this area. In the online Master of Communication Management program offered through the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, much of the coursework focuses on best practices in the field of communication, which will be beneficial for someone in this type of position. Graduates of the program can gather, translate, interpret, and analyze information, transforming those ideas into an actionable strategy for an organization or individual.

Content Producer or Manager

Communication is also vital in written language, so many people who pursue a Master of Communication Management degree online look into roles where they can manage and produce content for clients. Positions may include content writers, managers, and SEO specialists. From a digital marketing perspective, SEO and shareable content are some of the most important aspects of business growth. Content writers may pitch ideas and create content related to public relations, marketing, and advertising. All information shared must be compelling, persuasive, and optimized for the algorithms used in search engines.

In today’s digital world, the information presented online about a company or individual must be accessible and relevant. Content creation is one aspect, as those visiting the webpage are looking for helpful information, but managing that content is another important responsibility. A digital content manager may be responsible for publishing content on a site and testing it to make sure it’s working properly. Even a small change could break other links on a webpage, resulting in havoc for a business.

Creating content can also be a viable career for those who pursue master’s degrees in communications management. Excellent written communications skills will certainly prove to be invaluable in this role.

Marketing Manager

Positions for marketing managers may also require applicants to hold a Master of Communication Management degree. In this role, an individual will partner with executives and stakeholders in the business to create and implement marketing campaigns and strategies that will achieve the company’s objectives. When a business is in a growth phase, the marketing manager is responsible for coming up with ways to market the company and determine whether these plans are effective. Additional responsibilities may include forecasting budgets, allocating resources, and scheduling staff to handle the tasks associated with a campaign.

The exact tasks assigned to a marketing manager will depend on the size and needs of the company. Some marketing managers also work for multiple clients, such as an agency. They may work closely with public relations professionals to create and implement paid marketing campaigns that correspond with the free marketing that the company is engaging in, as well, such as news stories or articles. The ultimate goal of a marketing manager is to ensure that a business is well-represented in all of its marketing endeavors and that those endeavors are returning on the investments.

Mass Media

Mass media refers to media avenues that reach the masses, including radio, film, television, print media, and digital media. Those who are interested in pursuing careers in any of these areas may find that the online Master of Communication Management program through the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism prepares them for these roles. The comprehensive and interconnected curriculum includes the exploration of theories in organizational communication, the development of skills needed to identify communication challenges and propose strategic solutions, and the refinement of the ability to identify potentially destructive behavior and respond to it.

In a mass media application, the courses of this program also help students to identify tactics to pinpoint a target audience, which is a skill needed in the world of media. Those working in mass media often need to design and present plans or pitches for stories, videos, and programs. An advanced degree in communications management can help a graduate feel more prepared to handle this task and present confidently while conveying a clear message.

Crisis Communication

Although no business owner or leader wants to think about a crisis impacting their organization, it’s something that can happen at any time. A subcategory of public relations specializes in crisis communications or responding to an urgent situation in a way that helps the business or individual come out as positively as possible. The ultimate goal of crisis communications is to mitigate damage to a company’s reputation through the use of third-party sources.

Although this role technically falls under the umbrella of public relations, in some ways it is the opposite of what traditional public relations professionals are trying to achieve. When a crisis occurs that impacts an organization, the person in this role is responsible for responding to the negative attention the business is receiving. Excellent communication skills are necessary for a crisis communications role, as well as the ability to react quickly and draft statements, press releases, and other responses.

With so many different career paths and options, an online Master of Communication Management degree is worthwhile to many students and aspiring professionals. With coursework that focuses heavily on real-world applications and the ability to analyze and explore data, students can leave the program feeling equipped to take on challenging and growth-filled opportunities in both the private and public sectors. An optional experiential practicum course further allows for the application of these educational principles in professional settings. Those who are interested in pursuing any of these career paths are likely to benefit from the experience and knowledge available in the online Master of Communication Management program through the USC Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication.


The Marketing Insider

Masters Portal

The Public Relations Society of America

Media Bistro

Shift Communications