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The practice and study of communication includes a wide variety of industries, from education and research, to public relations, advertising, publishing, and digital media. Many people in television, film, and radio broadcasting have academic degrees in communications, with specializations in their fields. As described by Marist College on its Web site, “Communication is a discipline that involves the study of symbolic behavior in many contexts. Regardless of their specialties, communicators are involved in fundamentally similar activities. They gather and process information, and create and disseminate messages. Advertisers, journalists, public relations practitioners, public speakers, television, radio, film, or multimedia producers, and all who communicate with others engage in these essential operations.”

The communications industry is a multibillion dollar business. The different industries that fall under the communications umbrella, as reported by the market research group IBISWorld, include public relations, advertising, publishing, and social networking sites. The public relations industry generates approximately $13 billion in revenue. As of December 2016, there were more than 42,000 public relations businesses in operation in the United States. The growth of social networking services and mobile devices will contribute to the PR industry’s continued growth in the next few years. The advertising industry is a $44 billion business, with more than 66,000 advertising firms in the United States. The ad business has seen steady growth the past few years and that growth is expected to continue, thanks to the rise of digital mediums such as smartphones and tablets.

The publishing industry includes newspapers, magazines and periodicals, and books. Print publishing has been declining this past decade due to the increased popularity of Web-based content. IBISWorld reported the newspaper publishing industry generates $26 billion in revenue, and from 2011 to 2016, annual decline in growth of 5.2 percent. As of February 2017, there were only 4,227 newspaper publishing businesses in the United States. Magazine and periodical publishing companies fared slightly better by comparison, with annual decline in growth of only 2.1 percent in that same time frame. Magazine and periodical publishing, including such companies as Hearst Corporation and Time Inc., generated $30 billion in revenue and has more than 21,000 companies in operation in the United States. Consumers continue to shift to digital media, further reducing subscription and advertising sales.  

The book publishing industry had also been in decline since the growth of online content. Many companies have adapted to new technologies the past few years and restructured to accommodate consumers’ preferences, such as by publishing e-books. IBISWorld reported -.8 percent annual growth from 2011 to 2016. The book publishing industry is a $29 billion business, with more than 28,000 publishing companies in operation in the United States as of February 2017. In the coming years, textbook publishing is expected to grow due to increased college enrollments and a new nationwide K-12 standard.

As expected, social networking sites will experience tremendous growth in the foreseeable future. There should be plenty of job opportunities for communications professionals at companies such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and Microsoft, to name only a few. IBISWorld reported the social networking industry is an $18 billion business that experienced more than 44 percent annual growth between 2011 and 2016. As of February 2017, there were 1,206 social networking companies in the United States.