Shine bright like a diamond — enter the champion category of the Awards in 2021 | Image by Dimitris Christou from Pixabay
You’ve read about the Champion category for Best Organisation. But, rather than an organisation, you have an individual (maybe it’s you?) or a team that deserves recognition for its plain language achievements.
The Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team award honours the people who work hard to make plain language a reality in their organisation. The award is open to individuals or teams who have significantly contributed to a plain language initiative in any New Zealand organisation.
Now is your time to shine, so don’t be shy!
We know that so much work goes into projects that support clear communication. Over the last year or so we’ve seen some amazing examples of this. These communications played a big part in us reinvigorating the Plain English Awards for 2021.
To the people behind New Zealand’s public health communications about COVID-19, we’re looking at you! And we know many other teams and individuals have done similarly inspiring work, whether in the public eye or known only to their colleagues or customers.
Here are some examples to get you thinking. You or your team might have:
- influenced senior leaders to support a plain language initiative
- led a plain language project, large or small
- run workshops or regular team meetings on using plain language
- formally or informally supported other writers to help them produce clear, reader-friendly communication more consistently
- written newsletter articles or intranet resources about plain language for your team or organisation
- rewritten template letters into plain language, saving time for your team
- created clear, easy-to-use policies or guidelines for your organisation.
Meet the winning entry in 2018
Here’s what the judges said about the impressive entry from the MSD Better Letters Project team in 2018.
This initiative is representative of the nitty gritty, down and dirty, battlefield for plain language. They are making appreciable change at scale. And making a difference in the lives of people in vulnerable circumstances. Very well done. The Better Letters Project at MSD is a worthy plain English champion!
Read more about the Better Letters entry
Meet finalist Andy Baldwin of WineWorks
The judges loved Andy’s passion as a champion of plain language in his organisation. Read how he did it.
I enlisted some help and formed a team. I began to study plain English and promote it within the organisation, presenting my ideas to managers and directors. Like any movement it took time to get momentum, but once we achieved ‘critical mass’ people began asking me to teach them how to write better. I think this is the biggest compliment of all. Now we have people throughout WineWorks writing and using great plain English SOPs in their daily work. This is improving our processes and helps to upskill our teams.
Read more about finalist WineWorks
Entries are open until 31 July
Read about how to enter
Read the requirements for the Plain English Champion — Best Individual and Team category
Discover whether you’re a contender for the Plain English Champion — Best Organisation category
Nicola Welby June 14th, 2021
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Awards brand, Best Individual or Team, Communications, Plain English Awards, Plain English Champion
Tags: 2021 Plain English Awards, Champion, champions, clear communication, plain English, Plain English Awards, plain language
The Champion Best Organisation leads the way for clear communication | Photo by Joshua Golde on Unsplash
We asked Lynda Harris, Awards founder and CE of our principal sponsor Write, why she’s so excited about the Champion categories in the Plain English Awards.
First of all, what do we mean when we talk about an organisation being a plain language champion?
The Plain English Champion category is my absolute favourite! The title implies two strong, equally important concepts connected with the word ‘champion’. Most obviously it means being ‘the winner’ — the best, the highest achiever, the standard-setter, the model for others to follow. And we applaud that!
But also embodied in the title of this category is the concept of being an advocate — being a champion for a cause. Plain language champions believe in the power of clarity and are proud to share their ideals with the world.
What are some of the characteristics that set a champion organisation apart?
An organisation that wins the Plain English Champion category has some stand-out features that truly do set it apart. A champion organisation has shown evidence of a deliberate, focused, consistent choice across the whole organisation to use plain language. This means they make their expectations clear from the top.
The chief executive and senior leaders of a champion organisation talk about the ‘why’ of plain language. They and their management teams encourage and support others to adopt a clear style of communicating throughout the organisation. They promote the connection between clarity and their organisation’s values. (How often have you seen a company say they’re customer-focused, and then tried to work your way through a difficult form or a jumbled website?)
Champion organisations celebrate the benefits of clear communication — things like greater job satisfaction and improved workplace culture, or better customer retention and a stronger reputation for their business.
What do you think the judges will be looking for in the winning portfolio?
Evidence is key to a winning portfolio! The judges will be looking for evidence of a wholehearted commitment to making plain language the norm across the whole organisation. That sounds easy but means a lot.
In a plain language organisation, you’ll find evidence that the CEO and senior team have drawn a line in the sand and set a strong expectation that:
- the reader rules! Everyone considers their reader in every communication, both internal and external
- staff learn what good looks like — everyone writes to an agreed plain language standard
- senior people show the way — the CEO and all managers set an example and model plain language
- staff have help — they can easily find helpful resources and champions who can help
- new documents are clear and reader-friendly
- feedback and measurable results support the change to plain language.
What this evidence all adds up to is that plain language is woven into the fabric of the organisation.
Why does Write sponsor this category?
You can see that everything about this category is dear to Write’s heart. Our mission is to help organisations and individuals get more value from their daily investment in business communication. When we fulfil our mission, we help build a fairer, more respectful society.
We see the Plain English Awards as another way we can promote the benefits of clear communication. And the Champion category is the one that allows us to celebrate other organisations that are on a similar path to us.
Read about the purpose of the Plain English Awards
Preparing your Champion entry
Read about the criteria and prizes for the Champion categories
Read about other clues that your organisation is a champion of clear communication
Anne-Marie Chisnall May 19th, 2021
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Judges, Plain English Champion
Tags: Champion, clear communication, leadership, plain language culture, recognition
Are you the Champion we're looking for? Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash
Are you one of our award-winning plain language Champions? After a break of almost 3 years, our premier Champion categories are back: Best Organisation and Best Individual or Team. The Award for Best Organisation is highly sought-after and you’ll join an elite band of past winners.
We know for sure that the judging team is looking forward to hearing about your plain language project. But how do you know whether the time is right to enter the Best Organisation category?
Here are five clues to help you decide if it’s your organisation’s time to shine. If any one of them is true, we recommend you enter!
1. Your organisation champions and celebrates clear communication
Clear communication is something your organisation values and rewards. Your leadership team walks the talk, promoting the benefits of clear communication throughout your organisation. You may even have gone the extra mile by working towards an external mark of quality like the WriteMark or WriteMark Plus.
Your internal documents, such as brand guidelines, policies, and newsletters, are written in plain language. Role descriptions emphasise the need to write clearly. Perhaps you even have formal KPIs for using plain language.
Let your industry peers know you’re a leader by entering the Champion category.
2. You’ve noticed better business results from clearer communication
You’ve got case studies or numbers that show improvement. Achieving a measurable return on your investment in business writing is evidence of Champion performance.
You recognise writing is more than an everyday activity in business — it can be a way to improve business success.
If you’ve cracked it, you deserve a medal!
3. You’ve had great feedback from customers about your communication style
Your customers value the way you communicate. Getting praise from customers for using plain language is praise indeed! People don’t offer praise lightly. They’re much more likely to complain about poor communication — or to say nothing at all.
Great feedback for your communication style shows you’re getting your message across in a way your customers appreciate.
We’d like to hear what brought about that success — and to tell the world about it!
4. You train your people in better business writing
Organisations that commit to a plain language culture offer their people resources and training. Writing in plain language takes skill and effort.
You train your staff to write clearly, which gives them a step up. They enjoy their writing more, and they write more efficiently.
Good on you for giving your people the tools they need to write well. That’s worth celebrating too!
5. Your organisation encourages peer review of print and online content
Peer review at key stages of a writing project is expected. People in your organisation seek out peer review as they can see the value in another person’s critique. Your peer review process uses a checklist or standard and is part of a defined process to achieve quality.
Reviewing and feedback can take place through user-testing too. Do you regularly seek feedback from real readers on your communications?
Good systems and processes are key to a Champion mindset. Enter the Awards and get some well-deserved external recognition for your work.
Preparing your Champion entry
Find out how to enter our Champion categories
Read the criteria for our Champion categories
Anne-Marie Chisnall May 5th, 2021
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Communications, Industry awards, Plain English Awards, Plain English Champion
Tags: 2021 Plain English Awards, Best Organisation, Champion, clear communication, clear writing, Industry awards, Plain English Awards, Plain English Champion