Champion organisations and individuals are leaders in clear communication | Photo by Occasionalclimber on excio.io
Lynda Harris, Awards founder and CE of our principal sponsor Write, is a champion of champion plain language organisations. Read on to find out why.
I’ve always been proud to reserve sponsorship of the award for Plain Language Champion — Best Organisation for Write Limited. You’d have to wrestle it from me! That’s because the Champion award embodies all the qualities of people and organisations that have worked hard to empower others through plain language.
‘Champion’ means being ‘the winner’ — the best, the highest achiever, the standard-setter, the model for others to follow. And we applaud that! But also it includes the concept of being an advocate — or a champion for a cause.
Plain language champions believe in the power of clarity and are proud to share their ideals with the world.
Leadership sets a champion organisation apart
An organisation that wins the Plain Language Champion — Best Organisation category will have many characteristics that set it apart from others. A champion organisation will be able to show evidence of deliberately choosing to use plain language throughout the whole organisation. To do this successfully, they will have to make their expectations clear from the top.
For example, the chief executive and senior leaders of a champion organisation will talk about the ‘why’ of plain language. They and their management teams will encourage and support others to adopt a clear style of communicating both internally and externally. They won’t hold back from promoting the connection between clarity and their organisation’s values.
They will understand and be able to articulate the value that clear communication has for their organisation, their brand, their customers, and ultimately society as a whole.
Champion organisations celebrate the benefits of clear communication — things like greater job satisfaction and improved workplace culture, along with better customer retention, greater trust, and a reputation for doing good work.
Be inspired by the 2021 Best Organisation
The judges look for evidence in a winning champion portfolio
Evidence to back up your claims is essential to a winning portfolio! The judges look for evidence of a wholehearted commitment to making plain language the expected standard across the whole organisation. As a bonus, evidence of impact in the community will be compelling too.
In a plain language organisation, you’ll be able to see evidence that the CEO and senior team have stated their strong expectation for a culture of plain language. That means things like:
- everyone considers their reader in every piece of communication, both internal and external
- everyone knows what good looks like and writes to an agreed plain language standard
- senior people and other advocates model plain language practice
- helpful resources including plain language champions are readily available to help writers.
In other words, plain language is woven into the fabric of the organisation so that:
- documents are consistently clear and reader-friendly
- feedback and measurable results demonstrate the effect of plain language.
Individuals and teams are honoured too
The Awards also celebrate individuals and teams that have achieved great things with a plain language project. The Plain Language 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 or Australian organisation. For example, you might have:
- convinced senior management or others of influence to support a plain language initiative
- led a plain language project — large or small
- run training or team meetings on plain language topics
- helped other writers to produce clear, reader-friendly content
- written newsletter articles or intranet resources about plain language topics
- rewritten template letters into plain language.
Feel free to nominate yourself, your team, or someone else you work with.
Meet the 2021 Best Individual or Team
Write’s sponsorship celebrates plain language organisations
Lynda explains what’s behind Write sponsoring the Champion category.
You can see that everything about this category is dear to Write’s heart. Our purpose is to use words for the power of good by helping organisations and individuals get more value and impact from business communication. Ultimately we help build a fairer, more respectful society.
We see the Plain Language Awards as another way we can showcase the benefits of clear communication. Sponsoring the Champion category is one way we can celebrate other organisations doing their bit towards a society where people are able to participate more easily.
Read about Write and its B Corp status
Get your entry portfolio ready!
Entries must be in by 31 July and the Champion categories need a portfolio of evidence — so don’t delay!
Read the entry criteria and prizes for the Champion categories
See other clues that your organisation is a champion of clear communication
Anne-Marie Chisnall July 5th, 2022
Posted In: 2022 Plain Language Awards, Plain Language Champion
Tags: Best Individual or Team, Best Organisation, Champion, clear communication, impact, Lynda Harris, sponsors
Use your superpowers and spread the word about plain language | Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash
Lynda Harris, Write and WriteMark CEO and Awards founder, spoke at the Plain English Awards ceremony on 14 October 2021. Here is her introduction to the premier award of Plain English Champion — Best Organisation. The Champion category is sponsored by Write Limited.
So here we are in the middle of the Champion category with all this suspense before we announce the premier Award! For that reason I have been told to be very brief!
It’s no secret that the Champion category is my favourite. Not only because it honours such wonderful people and projects, but because the concept of being a Champion is absolutely inherent in the whole concept of the Awards.
Even though as a country we are so much better at plain language now, we still need to push for it. And the people who do the pushing, inspiring, and advocating are the champions. When you’re persuading a manager or a senior leader that clarity and connection is worth the time and effort, you’re being a champion. When you’re writing a business case for a plain language makeover, you’re being a champion. If you’re at this ceremony, you’re a champion.
So to all you champions, thank you!
Use your superpowers to make the world a better place
Years ago in 2007 we made a little animated video about a superhero who had P on his cape. That was P for PLAIN. Our PLAIN superhero swooped around workplaces converting people into superheros. Lots of plain language champions, in other words. It was a bit corny to be fair, but I often think that as plain language advocates and champions we are wearing a metaphorical superhero outfit.
I actually asked Google the defining qualities of a superhero and it helpfully told me that they were super strength, flight, telepathy, telekinesis, super speed, super intelligence, and super gadgets.
Well, you can take from that what you will. But the best bit that rings true is that they typically use their powers to help the world become a better place.
You are already using your superpowers to do just that. But maybe you never thought of it that way. Whether you’re a bold visionary, a passionate campaigner, or a quiet doer, you have qualities that the world needs more of. You have stories to tell about people who need clarity and connection. And you have the skills to inspire others to be champions like you.
So please take stock of your superpowers, don that cape, gather others around you, and continue to champion the cause for human-centred writing. Write’s slogan is ‘using the power of words for good’. Together we are all doing just that.
Congratulations to the winners of the Best Organisation Award!
Read about the winners of the Champion Best Organisation Award
Anne-Marie Chisnall October 20th, 2021
Posted In: 2021 Awards ceremony, 2021 Plain English Awards
Tags: 2021 Plain English Awards, Best Organisation, Champion, clear communication, power of plain English
A line-up of the best for 2022 | Photo by Nicola Welby
Congratulations to all our 2021 winners — what a fabulous achievement! Our judges were so impressed with the quality of entries this year and you deserve all the praise you’ve received.
We loved hearing the plain language stories that you shared with us. And we’re proud that you’ve kept the torch burning bright for clear communication in such a busy year. So pat yourselves on the back for a job well done!
Our Awards champions — raising the bar for clear communication
An extra special shoutout to Citizens Advice Bureau New Zealand, winner of the Plain English Champion — Best Organisation category. And another one to Lauren Kelindeman from Legalite in Australia, winner of the Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team category. Your contributions to the plain language movement are making all the difference to the lives of everyone in our corner of the world.
As our founder Lynda Harris said,
Whether you’re a bold visionary, a passionate campaigner, or a quiet doer, you have qualities that the world needs more of. You have stories to tell about people who need clarity and connection. And you have the skills to inspire others to be champions like you.
So keep up the good fight and stand up for what’s right! Because you’re our champions for 2021 and we couldn’t be more proud.
Find out more about the 2021 winners
Jonathan Tan October 14th, 2021
Posted In: 2021 Awards ceremony
Tags: 2021 finalists, 2021 Plain English Awards, 2021 winners, Best Annual Report, Best Individual or Team, Best Legal Document, Best Organisation, Best Plain English Communication, Best Plain English Sentence Transformation, Best Plain English Technical Communicator, Best Plain English Turnaround, Best Plain English Website, Champion, clear communication, judges, People's Choice, sponsors. Awards ceremony
Looking forward to celebrating this year’s winners | Photo by Universal Eye on Unsplash
Our international panels of judges have settled on this year’s finalists.
Find out which entries made the grade
So, what made an entry good enough to become a finalist this year? Here’s a taste of what our judges had to say:
[The writer] is fighting against engrained writing attitudes, including in [their] company, which is quite courageous.
I found the content incredibly compelling. The language, structure and visual devices beautifully enhance this detailed and informative content.
The combination of plain writing and relevant graphics make [this document] a joy to read.
[This document] is an excellent example of keeping anxious people informed on a critical topic.
We’re now counting down to our virtual Awards ceremony on Thursday, 14 October, where we’ll announce and celebrate this year’s winners.
Find out more about our ceremony plans
See who entered the Awards in 2021
Meet our judges
Melissa Wardell September 15th, 2021
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Communications, Finalists
Tags: 2021 Plain English Awards, Best Organisation, Best Plain English Communication, Brainstrain, Champion, clarity, clear communication, clear writing, judges, recognition
Calling all our Australian friends: It’s time to celebrate your successes in clear communication | Photo by Karl Anderson on Unsplash
Plain language is important to us here in New Zealand. It’s also a big thing in Australia. At the moment, Australia doesn’t have any awards celebrating clear communication.
Let’s not beat around the bush! After recognising the gap and fielding several enquiries, we’re opening up entries to Australia.
Haere mai, Australian plain language enthusiasts!
We’re excited to now be welcoming entries from any individual or organisation in Australia, as well as New Zealand. You’d just need to meet the same conditions as entrants do here: See our terms and conditions
You’ll also need to be an organisation that’s registered in Australia, or have a registered Australian address.
The standard entry fee for people in Australia will be AUD$125, and AUD$65 for registered charities.
Australian-based entries are welcome for any Awards categories
From Champion Organisation through to Best Plain English Legal Document, people and businesses in Australia are welcome to enter any of our categories. You can also nominate the good and the bad in our two People’s Choice categories: the Best Plain English Communication and the Worst Brainstrain Communication.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get entering!
Entries are open until 31 July
Read about how to enter
Melissa Wardell June 17th, 2021
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Australian clear communication awards, Communications, People's Choice awards, Plain English Awards
Tags: Best Legal Document, Best Organisation, Best Plain English Communication, Brainstrain, Champion, clear communication, People's Choice Awards, plain English, Plain English Awards
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
'We worked for 3 years to get this!' Winner of the Best Plain English Document — Private sector Jacqueline Taylor celebrates her success. Photo by Rebecca McMillan Photography.
What an amazing ceremony last night! Congratulations to all our 2018 winners — you deserved all the recognition you got. The feedback you each received from your judges truly shows that plain English is alive and kicking in New Zealand. It also shows that, as a Trust, we’re making great strides towards fulfilling our goals.
‘Keep going and spread the word!’
A special mention to the winners of our Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team category. The work that’s gone into the Better Letters Project at the Ministry of Social Development is seriously changing the lives of everyday New Zealanders.
Our judges got it right when they said, ‘Keep going and spread the word! Imagine what New Zealand’s public service might look like if every government department took this approach!’
Find out about this year’s winners
Take a look at photographer Rebecca McMillan’s wonderful photos of the ceremony
Melissa Wardell November 16th, 2018
Posted In: 2018 awards ceremony, 2018 winners, Finalists, Social good, Winners
Tags: 2018 Plain English Awards, 2018 Winners, Champion, clear communication, People's Choice
We'll let our 'shortlist' cats out of the basket tomorrow, Thursday, 20 September. Image by Eric Han. Unsplash licence.
Over the past 2 weeks our judges have been busy reviewing all of this year’s entries. We’ll let the first ‘shortlist’ cats out of the bag (or basket) tomorrow, so watch this space.
In the meantime we can let you in on some of the feedback we’ve had about this year’s entries. Here’s what one judge told us:
I’m pleased to report we have many excellent entries (quality lifts every year, which is fabulous) and it’s tricky coming up with a shortlist.
Melissa Wardell September 19th, 2018
Posted In: 2018 Plain English Awards, Plain English Awards, Shortlists
Tags: 2018 Plain English Awards, 2018 shortlists, Champion