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Trendwatch: HTML and the future of PR

Posted by Alex Warren on 3rd September 2013

PR Daily recently published an article titled “7 underrated skills every PR newbie needs”. As to be expected this article called for greater SEO knowledge, improved grammar, and all the other ‘revolutionary’ skillsets which have become so unbearably clichéd within modern PR commentary.

While the majority of these skills were typically safe-bets for a ‘Top X’ article, it was particularly interesting to see the inclusion of HTML coding in the number one slot. Although various bloggers and industry professionals have highlighted a growing tie-in between PR and web design, the majority of these simply called for greater knowledge of CMS platforms such as Joomla and WordPress.

While clearly emphasising that most PR pros will never have to build a website, the article highlighted a growing need to implement basic HTML commands such as bold, italic and bullet points. For many, basic knowledge such as just knowing the difference between the Body and Head tags can go a long way.

 5 Ways HTML knowledge benefits PR

  1. Keeps minor edits and low-level design work internal, helping to reduce costs for both agencies and clients.
  2. Improves communication between internal staff and external design agencies.
  3. Provides an effective grounding for search optimisation, blogging and a variety of other client services.
  4. Enhances press releases and emails though the use of embedded multimedia content and analytics.
  5. Aids the development of digital campaigns via landing pages, Facebook tabs, and e-newsletters.



So what does this shift mean for the PR industry? For many it suggests a further expansion of PR’s role within the marketing mix. It may also provide further evidence that the public relations industry is at long last shaking off its fluffy image and truly embracing the digital landscape.

On the other hand, the more pessimistic amongst us could take this shift as a watering down of the definition of PR. Maybe as traditional notions of public relations begin to die, PR pros are simply jumping ship. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid the more complex problems of our own profession we’ve been forced to leech off other disciplines in order to stay afloat?

Personally, I don’t believe that. Public relations is about more than the tools we use; it’s about the strategy behind those tools. Just because we’re not writing as many press releases, doesn’t mean we’re not working in PR.

As professional communicators we must take advantage of every channel available to us. Languages such as HTML provide a wealth of exciting new opportunities to reach out to an increasingly fragmented audience in ever-more targeted ways. As a result, it seems nothing short of foolish to turn down such an opportunity, particularly in the name of a few out-dated notions of what is and isn’t “proper” PR.

Photo courtesy of WebMove

Alex Warren

Alex Warren is an expert in AI and marketing technologies. He has published two books, Spin Machines, and Technoutopia and is regularly quoted in PR, marketing and technology media. In his role as a Senior Account Director at Wildfire he helps tech brands build creative strategies that deliver results and cut through the marketing BS.