Mins the language gap
by Olivia Sandu
It might seem obvious by default of your CV but good knowledge of the English language is one of the most important qualities a PR professional can possess, especially when working in a foreign country where English is not your native language.
I was lucky enough to be chosen by Ash Communications to undertake a work placement at the consultancy back in 2013. Having studied English for over 10 years I felt pretty confident when the internship arrived. However, putting the language into practice on a daily basis can give you quite a reality check.
The fact that British English is different from American English often presents a challenge, as the same words can have distinct meanings and others are not accepted or commonly used, depending on the context. One of the first rules you learn on any communications course is you need to understand your target audience and learn to address it using the most suitable words that efficiently deliver your message, no matter the language barrier. When it comes to communication that occurs when you are not face-to-face i.e. when you don’t see your audience but you have a phone call conversation or email exchange, body language can’t be perceived and so our voice, tone and the words we use define us. Perceptions can be formed just based on our speech and this made me revaluate and reprioritise the practical skills required for PR such as creativity, social skills, multi-tasking, public speaking, confidence levels etc.
When it comes to peculiarities, another thing a foreigner will notice when he/she first arrives in the UK is the quality of the infrastructure and the transport system, in particular. To me this is a bit like the PR industry; a well organised system, which is closely monitored, has a multitude of links and is very advanced. There can be a tight connection between PRs and journalists - generally they work together and there are systems which ease their relationship, creating a bridge between the two industries. Through years of best practice, PRs and the media can form a mutually beneficial relationship that, ultimately, can benefit our clients.
Today, as a fully fledged PR consultant working full-time in the agency, I have become accustomed to these differences which span across all industries that we specialise in. With a combination of experience, insider knowledge and relevant training, the language obstacle can be overcome. The bigger the challenge, the greater the triumph.