Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Winner: Best Plain English Technical Communicator 2014

Janet Green, Risk and Assurance Group, Ministry of Social Development

Judge Emily Cotlier with Janet Green, Ministry of Social Development

Judges’ comment

The judging panel selected this as the winner because of its high, consistent quality, its clarity, and because it demonstrates how an education campaign benefits from a plain English approach throughout. The website components were descriptive and informative, and did not require excessive navigation. The Risk Essentials booklet is compact, well structured, and presents complex information in a simple way. The How-to documents are well designed and use simple language. The tone throughout was friendly and helpful, without talking down to the reader.

Our judge Sue Kerr summed this up well: ‘Genuinely technical content — how to deal with risk — and a genuine, successful attempt to make it easy to understand and act on. Overall a great execution of an internal communication effort over different media.’

Media statement

Ministry of Social Development recognised for cutting out the ‘gobbledygook’

A continued focus on people and their needs has resulted in a third consecutive win at the WriteMark Plain English Awards for the Ministry of Social Development.

The Ministry followed 2012’s Best Turnaround award with last year’s Plain English Champion — Best Organisation award. Now, in 2014’s WriteMark Plain English Awards, the Ministry has won both the Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team award, and the Best Plain English Technical Communicator award. In addition, StudyLink has been recognised as a finalist in the Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team category.

‘I am thrilled that the Ministry’s efforts to make our communications clear and readable have been recognised,’ says Carolyn Risk, Deputy CE of Corporate and Governance.

‘We support some of the most vulnerable people in New Zealand, and good, clear communication is fundamental to meeting their needs. We are always looking at ways we can better support the people who count on our services, as well as raising the standard of all our work within the Ministry. Replacing technical and bureaucratic language with clear, plain language is part of this.’

The Ministry’s Risk and Assurance Group received the Best Plain English Technical Communicator Award for updating internal publications in plain English. This helps staff quickly and easily understand good risk management and recognise their part in managing risk in their day-to-day work.

‘As with many organisations, there are parts of our business that can be very technical and making these user-friendly can be a challenge,’ says Ms Risk.

‘Our staff have worked extremely hard on this and it is wonderful to receive this public pat on the back for a job well done.

‘To have three finalists in this year’s awards is a huge honour, and I am very proud that our staff are continuing to look for opportunities to improve how we talk to those we deal with,’ says Ms Risk.

The three Ministry of Social Development finalists were:
Sarah Moodie — Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team
StudyLink Service Support — Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Team
Janet Green, Risk and Assurance — Best Plain English Technical Communicator

Olivia Guthrie
Governance Advisor, Strategy and Governance