Why Every PR Student Needs to Learn HTML

By Phill Kosky

It is a truism that learning never ends after graduation, which is good and bad news. The bad news is college did not completely prepare us for careers. The good news is internships fill in some of the gaps college missed. For instance, I did not learn basic coding in school, but I did learn it at a former internship. Hence, internships are important, but that’s aside the point of this post. The point is, HTML has several uses in PR and by reading this you will learn why.

PR Daily’s Brian Perry and Dan Baker list several applications on how the modern PR practitioner uses HTML. These include tailoring a press release to be web-friendly, writing a guest or corporate blog post, embedding multimedia items into emails, and drafting and editing e-newsletters.  By familiarizing yourself with HTML and even taking a HTML certification course, you will be way ahead of the other PR students. As a recent PR graduate currently searching jobs, I can attest to this.

During my internship I used many of the HTML practices mentioned above. For instance, I often wrote landing pages and blogs for clients using WordPress.  While WordPress did most of the coding automatically, sometimes I had to manually embed a YouTube video or align images. To align images I had to go into Text (HTML) editor and realign them correctly using HTML. The first time I saw how to do this it looked like ancient hieroglyphics, but once I did it myself was simple. Anyone can learn how to code.

I am by no means an expert, but I can pass on some basics I acquired from interning. The first part to coding is learning tags, otherwise known as the coding language. For example, <h1>, <br/> and <a> are considered HTML5 tags and inserted into HTML editing software, such as WordPress or Adobe Dreamweaver. To clarify, HTML5 is the latest standard of HTML.  Like learning a foreign language the more you use tags, the quicker it will be to write code. Starting off you should have ready list of tags to reference in case you forget or need to learn more. Here’s the list of HTML5 elements I reference: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/Element.

One of the most frequently used strings of coding is hyperlinks, which direct people to a website or landing page. To get a general idea of how coding works here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a hyperlink:

  1. Open Notepad (PC) or TextEdit (Mac) and type <a>, this symbol indicates to the internet you are creating a link.
  2. Then type <href>, this is tag attribute denoting the links destination, followed by the URL, type http://www.wsuprssa.org/
  3. Next insert the text link: Join WSU PRSSA Today
  4. Finally type the <a/>to close the link.
    The code should look something like this:
    <a href=”http://www.wsuprssa.org/”>Join WSU PRSSA Today</a>.
  5. Save it as an .htm file.
  6. Open the file in your web browser and you will see a blank page with the words “Join WSU PRSSA Today” underlined. Point your arrow over the words and click on it.  If you’re directed to WSU PRSSA homepage I congratulate you, you just created your first line of code.

For those who want to learn more about HTML, I recommend checking out several online resources including w3schools.com, WebDevelopersNotes.com and Web Design at About.com. These sites offer tutorials and step-by-step guides to HTML. It’s the free and easiest way to learn without paying for an expensive class.

*Source PR Daily.com

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