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Career profile: Media sales agent

Advertising is the lifeblood of the media industry, and it’s media sales agents that keep it flowing. Read on to find out more.

A what?

Media sales agents sell advertising space in print and online media, for broadcast media like radio and TV, or on billboards and other places where adverts are displayed.

On the job

Media sales agents are normally employed in-house by publishing companies and broadcasters, or for companies that sell advertising space everywhere from big billboards to the back of taxi receipts. They  spend most of their time calling, emailing and meeting potential clients to persuade them to buy advertising, and keeping in contact with current clients to make sure they carry on. Great confidence and communication skills are crucial to building good relationships, as is an in-depth knowledge of each client’s business, since media sales agents will need to put together an offer around where and how often a client should advertise based on their budget and the audience they want to reach. They also need to keep up with current advertising trends and industry developments.

As there are so many different places a business can advertise and most media companies rely on advertising to survive, media sales is very competitive, which can be a lot of pressure. This means that media sales agents normally have sales targets, which will be tied in with the amount of money they earn, so although the basic starting salary can be quite low at around £15,000, media sales agents can earn double that if they perform well, and more after promotion.

What’s the training like?

Media sales employers will be looking for proof of certain skills like literacy, numeracy and research rather than specific subjects, so good A-levels in a variety of subjects or an equivalent qualification like a HND would be useful. But the most important thing for getting into the industry will normally be how confident you are in your interview, as you will usually receive in-house training once you are employed.

It’s important to remember that media sales is very different from writing stories or making films or digital content, so you shouldn’t think of a media sales job as a way into journalism or production. This means that if you want to go into media sales after university, studying a business or marketing degree might be more useful than a media course, although many of the transferable skills you’ll learn in a range of subjects like media, English or social sciences will help in the job.

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