Winners announced in 2014 Plain English Awards

Deloitte New Zealand was the big winner at the 2014 Plain English Awards. The business consultancy has been named Plain English Champion in the search for New Zealand’s clearest communicators.

The award recognises the work Deloitte New Zealand has done to foster a culture of clear, simple communication throughout its organisation — with its clients, and between its staff. This is the supreme award from the Writemark Plain English Awards Trust’s annual search for clear business communicators.

Best Plain English Champion — Individual went to Sarah Moodie of the Ministry of Social Development for her workshop materials.

Two Best Plain English Document awards are made, one for the private sector and one for the public and non-governmental (NGO) sector. Skills Active Aotearoa’s information sheets took the private sector award. The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand picked up the public sector award for its Get ahead Skills: My Planning My Preparation: Workbook.

The awards offer categories for Best Plain English websites too. The award for the clearest public/NGO sector website went to Careers New Zealand — www.careers.govt.nz  In the private sector, web designer Woods Creative Limited won for www.powersmartsolar.co.nz

A small New Plymouth law company with a national presence won The People’s Choice Best Plain Communication. Legal Beagle won for its website www.legalbeagle.co.nz

Winners received a stunning trophy by Wellington sculptor Campbell Maud. MC at Thursday’s awards, ex-lawyer and comedian James Elliott, knows the territory of legal-speak and officialese, and added his own off-beat humour to the fight against gobbledygook.

Creating a culture change

The panel of international judges commented that the “senior champions at Deloitte New Zealand  give the plain English campaign authority, but they’ve also used humour and competition to engage staff and make the subject less threatening. The effort and creativity expended in creating a culture change in the organisation merits this recognition.”

Deloitte New Zealand says its goal was to drive a shift in behaviour to use plain English in all of its written communication. “We are now using the heightened awareness and common vocabulary created by the campaign to integrate plain English into our learning and development strategy.  And we will continue to keep plain English top of mind, challenging staff on a regular basis and making use of the design elements created for the initial campaign.”

The organisation has won a prize package of consultancy worth $10,000 from New Zealand’s plain English specialists and major sponsor, Write Limited.

Gummy sour worms for giving readers ‘Brainstrain’

One award is not so positive, though it could be in the long term. The public make nominations for People’s Choice — Worst Brainstrain. The winner gets a year’s supply of gummy sour worms in a stainless steel rubbish bin.

This year, the winning document was Air New Zealand’s ‘Important Notices’, which travellers see when they print e-tickets.  The judges said “if Air New Zealand’s notice is truly important, it should be worthy of plain language. Instead it is more of a poorly structured obstacle course.”

While a ‘thumbs-down’ may hurt, it has motivated previous winners to turn their ‘Brainstrain’ into great, clear, readable documents.

Awards for people, organisations, and specialist documents

·         Janet Green, Risk and Assurance Team, Ministry of Social Development — Best Technical Communicator

·         Lesley Hanes, Statistics New Zealand — Best Plain English Sentence Transformation

·         MAS House and Contents Insurance — Best Plain English Turnaround

·         Mercer (NZ) Limited — Annual Report

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