As a 21st century communications professional, website design, maintenance and management are three important components of my job.
I’m lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on which view of the millennial workforce you subscribe to… I’ve heard arguments casting the millennial job market in a positive light, as well as those casting it in a negative light… but that’s a topic for another day) to have received some website coding instruction while I was in college… but it was basic, providing me with the skills to build a simple website that would have been cutting age in the mid 1990s (something like this). To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention, or think much of, my coding instruction while in school; at the time, it seemed unnecessary. Today, however, I realize I was wrong; I think basic knowledge of how to build a website from scratch, or at least understand how to make custom edits if using a content management system, is an important skill and tool for public relations professionals and communicators to have. I also think it will pay off in the long run; within ten years, possibly sooner, I anticipate that will be expected that professional communicators have a base knowledge of coding and I have recently read a few articles about teaching coding to future communicators while in college.
Because of this, I have been doing some work on developing these skills on my own, outside of the office and when I can find time between nighttime School Board meetings and puppy training (which could almost be a full-time on its own). At the recommendation of one of my friends who is an actual developer, I have been using CodeAcademy, which I have found to be easy, helpful, and to the point.
I recognize that the majority of individuals interested in a career in public relations or communications aren’t going to study computer science while in college or have a lot of interest (or time to spend) in developing their coding skills on their nights and weekends. However, I do think a solid foundation can benefit communicators and think it’s important, where possible, to carve out an hour or two each week developing the skill.