Here come the Plain English Awards!

Published: Thu 21 May 2009 09:15 AM
Here come the Plain English Awards!
WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust and Write Limited – 20 May 2009
For immediate release
Get rid of your gobbledygook and polish up your prose. The WriteMark New Zealand Plain English Awards are on again!
The Awards are held each year to recognise and reward people, businesses, and groups doing their best to stem the tide of confusing gibberish by communicating in plain English.
A range of awards and prizes will be handed out. A $10,000 top prize will go to the winner of the Champion – Best Organisation award, and there are prizes for other categories too. Companies and government organisations can submit documents, websites, or even just a sentence they've transformed into plain English.
Are you impressed with the way a company or government organisation has communicated with you or made it easier for you to use its services?
Members of the public can reward organisations for valuing them and talking to them in plain English by nominating their documents or website for a People’s Choice award.
But businesses be warned. The public can also nominate companies with frustrating and confusing offerings for the dreaded ‘Brainstrain’ awards.
However, Lynda Harris, Director of Write Limited, a principal sponsor of the Awards, says most awards are given to recognise excellent communications.
“Many businesses and other organisations submit their own writing because they've worked hard at developing plain English documents and would like some recognition for their staff. They also want customers to know they care about clarity. Others enter as a way of getting feedback about how clearly they’re communicating, or how they could do better.”
Ms Harris says they expect competition at this year’s Awards to be pretty tough.
“Last year the number of entrants more than doubled and we’re expecting a similar increase this year. Organisations are understanding more and more the importance of plain English, especially during tough economic times.”
A recent UK study suggests poorly designed, documents and bad grammar could be costing businesses there as much as £41 billion a year in lost sales, and Ms Harris says the situation is bound to be similar here.
“Unhappy customers will simply vote with their feet so, during a recession, how well you communicate could determine whether or not you survive.”
Organisations wishing to submit their writing for an award, or members of the public wanting to make People’s Choice nominations, can do so at the WriteMark Plain English Awards website (
The 2009 WriteMark New Zealand Plain English Awards will be judged by a panel of local and international plain English professionals. Winners will be announced on 18 September at a ceremony hosted by Fair Go presenter Kevin Milne.

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