Ideas for becoming a more versatile communicator

To thrive in PR, marketing or communications, you need a broad skill set.

Writing and relationships are still important, but it helps to have more
modern weapons in your communications arsenal. Here are four that will make
you a more formidable communicator:

1. Navigate WordPress.

There’s a reason why
75 million sites use WordPress. It’s simple to use for content management novices, yet versatile enough
to build beautiful websites for the likes of Disney, Facebook, Bloomberg
and Sony. It’s also free.

Communicators of all stripes should
start a free blog on WordPress. Aside from having a forum where you can write and promote your work,
you’ll be forced to learn a content management system, edit photos and
figure out how to embed different pieces of content.

You’ll screw things up repeatedly, then be forced to troubleshoot on your
own. You’ll never really be on your own, though, as WordPress support forums and
how-to videos are ubiquitous. It’s a great way to learn basic web developer
and programming skills.

[RELATED: Master today’s essential skills and tomorrow’s tools at the PR Now & Next Conference.]

There’s roughly a one in three chance the next website you work on will be
published via WordPress, so you might as well get acquainted.

2. Learn a language.

I’m in awe of people who speak multiple languages.
Most human resources departments are, too.

Proceed with your Mandarin classes and German Hausaufgaben
(homework), but don’t forget computer languages. A working knowledge of
Python or PHP on your résumé is just as impressive as knowing some Pashto
or Portuguese.

As for what language to learn,
a massive survey of global developers found that some of the most-used technologies are Javascript, SQL, Java,
C+, PHP and Python. HTML and CSS
are also good to know.

Fluency is not essential. Familiarizing yourself with new languages—spoken and computer-based—can open opportunities, spur networking and
make you a more effective communicator.

3. Enter the (duopoly) dragon.

You can’t run much of a business without understanding Google and Facebook.
The tech titans gobbled up most of the
$72.5 billion that was spent on digital advertising last year, with no signs of slowing.

It’s about much more than search, reach and ads, though. Communicators who
want to stay relevant should enter the bellies of these beasts and wring
the most benefit out of the features they offer.

Digging into Google’s products gives you an edge when it comes to decoding
ever-changing ranking algorithm,
targeting precise audiences with your messaging, understanding your website traffic, getting your page
to load like lightning and so
much more.

You might not become a
Google Partner or get certified in search, display, video, mobile or shopping advertising,
but any Google niche knowledge affords you a business advantage.

As for Facebook, it helps to have a handle on its powerful advertising
capacity. Targeted Facebook ads are an easy, affordable way to reach a wide
swath of potential customers. It also pays to keep up with new tricks on
the network, such as
job posting functionality and
messenger ads.

4. Tinker with automation software.

Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot, AdRoll, Pica9, Bremy—take your pick. Marketing
automation platforms let you streamline efforts across communication
channels, coordinate social media content, craft email campaigns, build
landing pages and monitor website analytics.

Automation software savvy is a great skill to have, because it enables you
to cover a lot of communication ground.

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