An In-Depth Look at the Digital Media Director Role

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Digital media is a blanket term covering all sources of machine-readable information accessible on electronic devices, frequently over an internet connection. Social media platforms, websites and mobile apps and all fit into the digital media category, which as a whole accounts for a growing share of how people get their news and also consume items such as videos, music and books. For example, Pew Research Center found that social media overtook newspapers as a go-to news source between 2016 and 2018 and that it was the most popular source among the 18-28 age group.

As organizations look to control the flow of information across multiple digital channels and manage their online presences, digital media directors will play a pivotal part. A person in this position oversees all dimensions of a company’s digital strategy, from its paid media placements to how it orchestrates its public relations campaigns. Professionals with a background in PR and with the added benefit of an advanced degree such as the Master’s in Strategic Public Relations (SPR) from the George Washington University (GW) are well-equipped to pursue this

What does a digital media director do?

A digital media director is a manager, typically with experience in relevant domains such as PR, advertising, marketing, copywriting, and/or web development. These proficiencies help them supervise a wide range of tasks, including but not limited to:

  • Planning all digital initiatives, such as paid search, digital ad buys, social media management, email marketing campaigns, content writing, and search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Selecting the right media platform for each piece of content and outreach effort, to ensure it connects with the intended audiences.
  • Making sure that all updates posted to social media channels are consistent with the company’s PR efforts and true to its branding.
  • Building and maintaining relationships with business partners and vendors.
  • Monitoring site analytics and SEO configurations to understand how well digital campaigns are performing and where they might be improved.
  • Hiring and managing staff for digital media projects.
  • Collaborating with other managers across the organization to coordinate messaging and strategy.

Digital media directors must have well-honed editorial, curatorial, managerial, and problem-solving skills to succeed in their positions. Moreover, they must continuously stay up-to-date on the latest developments in digital technologies, which typically evolve quickly, with important implications for how online presence is managed.

Twitter’s introduction of threaded messages ― after years of users creating their own multi-part “tweetstorms” ― is just one example, as it opened up new possibilities for digital promotion. Disney used the threaded format to have a “conversation” between its different brands, including Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars, in the run-up to the 2019 launch of the Disney+ streaming service.

How much do digital media directors make?

In August 2019, ZipRecruiter estimated that the average salary for a digital media director was $86,428, with an upper bound of $121,000. That’s a relatively narrow range, implying that how many years of experience digital media directors have doesn’t greatly impact their earning potential. Instead, their skills, degrees and chosen industries will usually determine their positions and the associated compensation.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide information for digital media director, but it does keep entries on several analogous roles, most notably social media specialists and advertising, promotions and marketing managers. Social media specialists, a subset of public relations specialists, had $60,000 median pay in 2018 and 6% expected growth in employment from 2016 to 2026. Advertising, promotions and marketing managers had median pay of over $132,000 and projected growth of 8%, which is faster than the average for all professions.

Taking all these numbers together, digital media directors make much more than the national median. The BLS found that advertising, promotions and marketing managers working in PR made more than their counterparts in other popular sectors like information and wholesale trade.

A digital media director and a colleague work on a project.

How do I become a digital media director?

Earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as PR or communications, is the first step in becoming a digital media director. Experience gained via internships may also be helpful in securing employment.

An advanced credential like the SPR degree from GW can also help build relevant knowledge and skills for a career as a digital media director. The SPR curriculum includes diverse coursework covering topics in digital media relations, business, finance, crisis communications and research, all of which contribute to a better understanding of digital media as a whole.

To learn more, visit the main program page. There, you can download a copy of our brochure containing further information.

Recommended Readings:
Essential skill sets for social media director and digital media directorWhat’s the difference between press secretaries and communications directors

Public relations specialists
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers
Digital Media Director Salary
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