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The Reed College of Media and College of Creative Arts will merge to form the new WVU College of Creative Arts and Media as of July 1, 2024. Get details.

[Notes from our Network] Is the Field of Marketing Communications an Art, a Science, or Both?



Take a quick skim through LinkedIn for the position title of Marketing Specialist.

You’ll find one job posting after another that seeks what has been dubbed a ‘marketing unicorn.’ The postings don’t explicitly say ‘unicorn’ of course, but they list desired skills that run the gamut from artistic to data-centric to coding. After reading just one listing that requests applicants with Adobe CC, photography, videography, copywriting, event planning, Google Analytics and HTML and JavaScript skills, you’ll be wondering if it was actually meant to be split up into several different positions.

With so many ‘marketing unicorn’ requests on job boards, it begs the question, is marketing an art or a science? The short answer is it’s both. Ultimately, the degree to which marketers need to channel their inner unicorn depends on the size of the company.

Are there benefits to having siloed teams?

Large companies have the resources to fill highly-specialized roles, such as a Content Marketer or Digital Marketer. This is often where you’ll find a more stringent divide between the ‘creative types’ and the ‘data nerds.’ I once worked at a full-service marketing agency where if a digital team member even attempted to layout an Unbounce page without a designer’s guidance, the whole office would hear about it for days. That being said, one of the biggest benefits of having siloed teams is that each is comprised of experts who live and breathe their specialty.

It’s small to medium businesses (SMBs) that truly depend upon the do-it-all types of marketers. They need someone who can jump between analyzing website traffic in Google Analytics to editing a flyer in InDesign without skipping a beat. As a marketer for an SMB, you have to be agile and willing to learn new skills on the fly sometimes — an ideal environment for those who enjoy exercising both artistic and hard-data skills daily.

IMC prioritizes both the art and science of marketing:

Fortunately, the West Virginia University's Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program, offered within the Reed College of Media, sets students up for success by teaching them to tackle an extensive spectrum of marketing roles from specialized to all-encompassing.

Students start off by taking IMC 610: Introduction to IMC, during which the fundamentals of creative strategy and measurable actions are applied in a detailed plan for a brand of the student’s choice. With the basics covered, other courses delve into everything from IMC 611: Market Research & Analysis to IMC 635: Visual Information Design and beyond. The clearly laid out curriculum allows students to pursue an Area of Emphasis, which helps guide students with particular interests in specializations such as Data Marketing Communications.

In short, whether you define yourself as a creative or as data-oriented, there is a track for you.

Personally, I am taking a try-a-little-bit-of-everything approach to the program because I see myself continuing to work for SMBs throughout my career. As the Marketing Manager for a less than five-year-old PR firm, I have the pleasure of working on not only my company’s marketing initiatives but those of clients. From writing website content to reviewing social and web analytics, I love channeling both artistic and analytical parts of the mind to solve problems and produce better results.

Whether or not you agree that marketing is both an art and a science, it is arguably one of the most dynamic fields in which practitioners have the opportunity to learn about a myriad of industries —some imaginative and some technical. There are SEO Managers who probably never imagined they would know a playground design company inside and out. I personally have a plethora of knowledge about in-ground swimming pool construction. Considering my undergraduate background is in drawing, I certainly never pictured myself diving headfirst into the world of swimming pool engineering. Yes, that cheesy pun was intentional!

At the end of the day, whether you aspire to specialize in a particular aspect of marketing or to be a marketing unicorn, the IMC graduate program is an excellent way to jumpstart your career or refine your existing expertise.

More About Bridget Kunz:

Bridget is a second-year graduate student in the IMC program. She lives in Baltimore, MD and works as a Marketing Manager at LaunchTech Communications, a boutique PR firm specializing in cybersecurity and technology companies. Bridget has a B.A. in Studio Art & Design and a B.S. in Human Development from Binghamton University.

Notes from our Network is a series featuring blogs written by students and alumni from West Virginia University's Integrated Marketing Communications and Data Marketing Communications programs. If you are a student or alumni from these programs and would like to write a blog for this series, please email Stefanie Moore at with a blog proposal.

Interested in growing your career with a master's degree in Data, Digital or Integrated Marketing Communications? Request more information today!

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