Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Winner: Best Plain English Document — Private Sector 2015

Beef + Lamb

Jan Keir-Smith with judge Kathryn Reeves

Document name

2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum, levy proposal, pocket guide and team guide

Judges’ comment

This document has a strong purpose statement at the start. The first three pages tell readers what the document is about, why it’s important, and how to act on what they’ve read.

The document has an ‘inverted pyramid’ structure that answers readers’ main questions up front and includes easy-to-navigate detail further on. Readers can choose to read only the first pages to get the key information, and won’t miss important information if they skip the rest (as busy people often do).

You’ve created a nice balance between images that illustrate the data and stories, and text blocks that generally don’t overwhelm the reader.

The document gives readers all the information they need, from the big picture to the in-depth data and analysis. This is important both for compliance and for ensuring the reader can make an informed decision.
Kudos to the team responsible! The document illustrates that people at Beef + Lamb recognise that what’s most important to them isn’t always what’s most important to the reader. You’ve written this document with your audience in mind.

Overall, this is an excellent document that has a clear purpose, is visually engaging, and clearly written for a lay audience. It treats readers with respect and acknowledges the hard questions.

Media statement

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is owned by New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers. They invest collectively in the organisation to carry out activities they couldn’t do alone. This includes animal and pasture research and developing farmers’ business skills and knowledge to drive farm performance. The organisation works on keeping the doors to export markets open and reducing barriers to trade plus creating consumer preference for New Zealand beef and sheepmeat.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is organised to have farmers’ backs on issues that impact their ability to farm. Farmers want the organisation to be their voice on matters like their care and responsibility for the environment and securing sensible rules around health and safety. This is so they can get on and do what they love the most — farming.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is operated through the Commodity Levies Act 1990. Every 6 years the organisation is required to hold a referendum to ask farmers if they want to continue to be levied to fund the work of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The materials that won the Best Plain English Document — Private Sector were developed as part of the 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum. The levy proposal was mailed to all 18,000 sheep and beef farmers with voting papers. It deliberately told the Beef + Lamb New Zealand story through a series of farmer case studies to make the information and proposition accessible. The other two documents were information resources for staff and stakeholders to update them on all information they needed to support the campaign.

The referendum vote was carried out in September and was a convincing success, with 85 per cent support for continuing both levies. This has given Beef + Lamb New Zealand a strong mandate for the next 6 years.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is delighted with this result and to have won Best Plain English Document — Private Sector in the 2015 WriteMark Awards.

Jan Keir-Smith
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Communications Manager