Posted on December 10, 2015, at 4:10 p.m.
by Tatum Roessler.
Being bilingual or fluent in a foreign language can really give you a leg-up on job competition, especially at companies with international headquarters or offices. However, some of the most important languages you can learn today are not Romance, or Arabic, or even Mandarin Chinese. The most valuable languages and skills a PR practitioner can learn are Java, HTML 5, Python, CSS or, in other words, coding.
Coding was previously stereotyped as something that only UX designers, computer software engineers and IT geeks needed to know. In public relations and advertising, it may even seem like a trivial skill to learn. However, today’s world of communication is primarily based in the digital spectrum through the medium of computers. Websites are the foundation for many companies and are a strong marketing and communications tool used by almost every business in existence. Learning to code as a future PR practitioner can help you lay the foundation to communicate and custom-create the interface your client uses to interact with customers and other key publics.
Fortunately there are many free online programs that offer courses in HTML5, Java, Python, PHP and Ruby, to name a few, and also offer courses in Command lines, another piece of coding. Websites such as Code Academy and Khan Academy offer free online courses that teach basic principles of the more popular coding languages, such as Java and HTLM5. Users can sign up for free and work at their own pace starting with the basics to more difficult steps in the language.
Coding is becoming a sought-after skill in all fields and should be considered heavily in the PR and advertising industries. For one, it can help alleviate costs and time when working on projects. While learning proper AP style and mastering the art of writing a pitch are still vital skills in order to reap success in PR, learning to code can make any PR pro an asset. The PR industry is highly digital; in fact, a digital narrative can make or break a brand or company. By learning to code, you can help bridge the gap between your client and its publics.
Consider social media another case for the need for PR practitioners to learn computer languages. Being fluent in social media is a must for every business and PR pro out there. You have to master social media in order to successfully engage and connect to businesses and consumers. Becoming fluent in a computer language is no different. As I previously mentioned, you can custom-create and generate the content of a website or blog, which can affect the quality of the interface the customer engages with on the brand’s website. Bad social media can create lack of awareness and negative attitude from consumers; a bad website equates to the same outcome.
So before you jump the gun and download Rosetta Stone for Swahili on your iPad, get ahead of the curve and download a coding course. While you may not have perfect pronunciation when ordering at that authentic French restaurant, you will be able to build a whole website from scratch and one day connect your client to its audiences in an innovative and genuine way.