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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What to do with colleagues who are very good workers but have "poorest of the poor" comprehension of English?

Today I am faced with a peculiar problem for which I am still scratching my head trying to figure out a solution. This problem I am sure is prevalent all across the PR Industry and I would like to know the solution. One of our colleagues with more than a decent track record in delivery across media both vernacular and mainline English, has not even passable knowledge of English. Unfortunately for all of us coming from the interiors of India, English still happens to be the main language of communication at least in the written mode. This is especially true for emails.

Our problem stems from the fact that his written English is as bad as it can get. Typically one of his colleagues edits his mail and then he sends it. We are all aware of this and have let it be in the hope that he will slowly pick up and start doing his own writing. But this seems to be not working and today a wrong mail was sent by him to a client who is very particular, causing embarrassment all around. He just escaped being fired by the skin of his teeth. We all feel sorry for him, but how do we get him to improve?

This brings me to the larger question - why can't the so called Industry organisations run some kind of English classes for those aspiring to make a career in the Public Relations sector. Since this is a problem that most of the PR professionals, that I have come across, have - poor written communication skills. To give a classical example Chartered Accountants in India were never known for their communication skills,however ICAI, the governing body recognised this and today runs courses for CA's on communication in conjunction with the best institutions that there are in the country. The CA profession has benefited immensely and today you will find a marked difference in how a CA communicates, though there is still a long way to go. But at least they have made a beginning.

I just hope that all of us working in the PR sector wake up to this reality and take some corrective steps or else many a career like my colleagues will be in jeopardy.

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