Electronic communication with staff, customers or other stakeholders is nothing new. Since email and the Internet were introduced in the 1990s, they have become default communications for all types of business, although in the early stages they were typically the responsibility of the information technology department. Since the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, however, and the increasing sophistication of search engines such as Google, responsibility for use of these tools has increasingly fallen to marketing. Digital communications is a rapidly growing field within the marketing and communications disciplines.
To become a digital communications specialist, you will need at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in a relevant subject such as marketing or IT. A postgraduate qualification in management or marketing and communications would be advantageous, but not essential, for most employers. What would make you stand out when applying for your first job in digital communications is some form of work experience or an internship. This could either be with a digital communications agency or in an in-house marketing department.
You will need a good understanding of all aspects of digital communications and social media and be able to keep up to date with new developments as they happen. It is a fast-moving field, so you must be quick to learn new things, particularly on the technical side. Other important skills are teamwork and persuasiveness. Digital communications is a relatively new discipline, so you will often need to explain it to other staff members and get them to see its merits. Finally, you will need general business awareness, management and communication skills.
Your objectives will involve developing digital communication strategies and overseeing their implementation. Typically, you will have responsibility for monitoring the effectiveness of the website and other digital platforms. This includes managing search engine optimization and providing a content strategy to drive people to the website. You will work with other members of the communications and marketing team to produce fully integrated online and offline campaigns. The digital element of these campaigns could include email marketing -- for which you would collate mailing lists, send out campaigns and measure results -- and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Digital communications managers usually work in marketing and communications departments where they have similar status to public relations managers. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the median wage for a PR manager in 2010 was $57,550. It is a rapidly growing field, with the number of jobs expected to expand by 21 percent between 2010 and 2020.