The answer to the question “What is a communications degree?” has changed quite a bit since the rise of the internet. A communication degree focuses on how people interact and communicate with one another. Prior to the digital age, communication degree programs were limited to the study of verbal interactions and communication in traditional print mediums such as newspapers. But the introduction of the web permanently altered communication as we know it. From instant messaging to customized web content, the internet is revolutionizing how people share information and interact with one another on a daily basis.
Today, bachelor’s degree in communication programs still study more traditional verbal and written communication. But they also focus heavily on digital communication, helping students gain an understanding of the key concepts — ranging from data analytics to social media — that drive our interconnected society. With a degree in communication, successful students master the digital tools and techniques to not only excel in modern communication, but become a part of the industry’s future.
Here are a few of the concepts, skills, and strategies that communication students often explore.
1) Tapping Into Data Analytics: Understanding Web Traffic Through Google Analytics
Modern computer technology uses an unprecedented level of data-processing power, and this power continues to grow exponentially. Companies can collect data about internet users and analyze it to generate valuable insights about the marketplace. The foremost platform for facilitating this process is Google Analytics, an online system that tracks and reports website traffic. If a firm does not have access to a professional who understands the potential uses for such data, it is missing out on a powerful opportunity to attract customers.
As a tool, data analytics is useful for the following.
- Gathering data, such as online preferences, about customers
- Identifying customer trends based on gathered data
- Organizing trend-related data in an easy-to-digest fashion
- Developing web strategies based on those trends
Communication students are taught how to recognize these customer trends and how they can use them to their advantage. Some ways to capitalize on this data could include determining which search keywords attract the most customers to a website, or comparing website designs to discern which layout is most effective in attracting users. While applications such as Google Analytics are free to use for everyone, post-secondary communication coursework can enable professionals to apply analytics data at higher levels to improve online customer engagement strategies.
2) The Art of Communication Through Email and Web Content
Before the internet, communication professionals likely found themselves scheduling phone calls or drafting letters to exchange information with their colleagues or customers. Today, a large portion of interpersonal communication occurs instantaneously online through emails or multimedia content. Through the completion of a Bachelor of Arts in Communication program, professionals can learn how to create a plan that enables them to use email and web content to achieve specific results. The way these communication methods can best be applied depends on what organizations hope to accomplish.
For example, a communication graduate may decide to connect with customers of a clothing retailer by advertising attractive images of its products. If instead the goal is to improve the public image of the brand, the tactic may be to shy away from image-based advertising campaigns and create a multimedia campaign that highlights the retailer’s positive contributions to the communities in which it operates.
Through education, a communication professional can gain an enhanced understanding of how to deliver messages through email and digital media in ways that progress an employer’s specific interests.
3) Using Digital Marketing Strategies to Gain More Business
Digital marketing is a multifaceted process that involves using different forms of digital media to attract attention. Without a well-structured digital marketing strategy, most businesses will consistently fail to attract meaningful engagement from online customers. Conversely, the companies that wish to excel in their respective industries often hire educated communication professionals to market their products or services online through various digital media channels.
There are many software applications designed to aid in the process of building an effective digital marketing strategy. These platforms have different features, but common features include tracking customer information, automating multimedia marketing processes such as emails or social media posting, and generating reports based on various analytics data.
A business professional with a communication education should understand how to use these platforms to efficiently manage digital marketing strategies, enabling a firm to readily adapt to marketplace dynamics when the tide of an industry shifts.
4) Engaging with Stakeholders via Social Media
Social media is becoming increasingly useful for business. These platforms have the power to put a message in front of millions of consumers. Yet producing positive business results through social media is not as simple as frequently making status updates. The content being posted on a firm’s social media page must follow a strategy to be effective. This is where the expertise of an educated communication professional becomes essential.
To successfully use social media in marketing, businesses must follow these generally accepted points.
- Interact carefully with audiences in ways that ultimately promote trust in their firms
- Facilitate engaging conversations on social media platforms
- Focus on transforming the general audience into a productive and engaged community
Accomplishing these points might not be easy for someone who does not understand interpersonal communication. A Bachelor of Arts in Communication program can provide business professionals with insight into how social media managers can use honesty and authenticity to build lasting relationships with their audiences.
5) Improving a Firm’s Reputation by Building Digital Brand Awareness
A company’s brand is the noteworthy aspect of an organization that the public can use to identify it. While physical and digital brand awareness are inherently connected, the methods to improve the two types could be entirely different. Many of the responsibilities that communication professionals take on are likely to have some effect on their employers’ brands. Therefore, they should educate themselves on which actions most effectively enhance a brand’s online reputation.
In terms of building digital brand awareness, communication professionals may be tasked with generating positive impressions from online audiences. This may be accomplished by using a combination of digital content distribution channels. In addition to planning, creating, and releasing this content, communication professionals must assess the quality of the impressions they are receiving from their efforts and adjust their strategies based on those observations.
Without understanding the process of building positive associations around a brand, consistently improving a firm’s online reputation may be an unattainable goal.
What Is a Degree in Communications Good For?
Part of answering the question, “What is a communications degree?” lies in understanding what professional avenues the degree opens up. A communication degree can help build the skills to advance careers in a range of fields.
- Public relations
Certain communication degree programs provide students with real-world projects or internship experience so they can build their writing portfolios. Graduates can then use this experience to pursue rewarding careers with a foundation in communication. Career paths may include the following.
- Advertising, promotions, or marketing manager — Managers in these roles develop campaigns and strategies to promote products across media channels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for professionals in these roles was $135,900 in 2019.
- Public relations specialist — These professionals help build and maintain an organization’s reputation through press releases, interviews, and other media. They earned a median salary of $61,150 in 2019, according to the BLS.
- Editor — Professionals in this role revise content, such as articles, white papers and books, for clarity and factual integrity. The BLS reports that editors earned a median salary of $61,370 in 2019.
A degree in communication can prepare professionals to stand out in a growing field by building in-demand skills in areas such as content creation and digital media. According to the BLS, jobs in media and communication are expected to grow by 4% from 2018 to 2028, resulting in approximately 27,600 new jobs.
Build Your Career in Communication
Through the effective use of the different forms of online communication, businesses have the opportunity to connect with customers who otherwise may not have been exposed to their brands. If these connections result in permanent relationships, organizations create an ongoing opportunity to gain feedback, support, and loyalty from a community of engaged patrons.
By completing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, individuals can learn the fundamentals of communication and how these tactics can be applied to the digital space, making them more competitive for marketing and communication roles in a highly innovative field.
Now that you have a better understanding of communication in today’s evolving digital landscape, discover the potential careers you might seek with a communication degree.
The Princeton Review, “3 Skills All Communications Majors Must Have”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Editors
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Media and Communication Occupations
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Public Relations Specialists