Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Finalist: Best Plain English Turnaround 2015


Document name

Can’t contact letter

Judges’ comment

Both your ‘before’ and ‘after’ versions of the letter have a clear purpose. The rewritten letter makes its purpose even clearer with the addition of the ‘Where are you, herd …?’ in the right-hand corner. That was a masterstroke!

The layout of the new letter has more white space because it’s less wordy than the original. You’ve greatly improved the layout and presentation of the form that goes with the letter. Both feel less bureaucratic and more inviting. Great work.

You’ve done an excellent job of humanising the headings in the form. You’ve used nice short paragraphs. Your sentences are short and active.

The tone of the letter is spot on. Given that the purpose is to get farmers to take action, we think the letter really works—it makes it easy for people to quickly provide the information needed. The phrasing is both polite and conversational.

The new version is definitely a big improvement on the original. You’ve created a very effective letter and form, confidently put together and well presented. Well done.

Media statement

OSPRI is delighted to be named a finalist in the WriteMark Plain English Awards for the Best Plain English Turnaround. As a first time entrant, this has given us confirmation that our communications are direct, effective, and easily understood.

OSPRI is a non-profit organisation managing New Zealand’s national animal identification and tracing (NAIT) programme and the TBfree programme. We communicate with the people who make up New Zealand’s agricultural backbone — farmers, landowners, contractors, and business owners.

We recently had an opportunity to reassess the way we communicate, to revisit our main documents and explore the use of online channels to convey important information. We approached our task with a fundamental commitment to using plain English to reinforce the accuracy, brevity, and clarity of all OSPRI collateral.

The language we use is often necessarily technical, and feedback from our farmer focus groups indicated a strong preference for simple, plain English to get the messages across. Because we’re making sure all our communications are easy to understand, farmers know how to meet their obligations. This supports our work towards livestock traceability and a TB-free New Zealand.