Why you should enter the Plain Language Awards

If your business or organisation is based in New Zealand or Australia, enter the Plain Language Awards. You’ve nothing to lose and much to gain. Entries close 31 July 2023.

The awards, organised by WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust, are “a public pat on the back for plain language champions, and help raise the bar for clear communication”.

I judged two categories in 2021 and I’m judging again in 2023.

Here are seven reasons your business or organisation should make sure its plain language successes are in to win. These are my views and not those of the Plain Language Awards.

1. You’re never too small to win at plain language

I’ve seen equally good plain language practice in large and small organisations. Companies with just a handful of employees have won Plain Language Awards.

2. You can enter almost anything – from a sentence, to a document, to everything you do

You needn’t worry if your plain language practice could be stronger – you deserve recognition for where you’re doing well. Choose a category that suits your strengths.

3. Win customers

If you’ve ever dealt with an organisation that wrote like a thesaurus put through a shredder, you’ll understand why winning a Plain Language Award attracts customers. Using plain language shows you care.

The profile of plain language is growing, especially in New Zealand where a Plain Language Act recently became law. Time to show you’re on the leading edge.

4. Convert your plain language doubters

Is there someone senior in your organisation who doesn’t ‘get’ plain language? They may even be holding back progress toward better communication.

Plain language doubters often value haughty, impenetrable writing because they think it demonstrates prestige. Nothing could be further from the truth – research shows all audiences prefer plain language, especially expert audiences. Plain language isn’t dumbing down – being frank and accurate takes courage.

Prestige-hunters will find it hard to keep opposing plain language when your organisation wins a Plain Language Award. There are no prizes for confusing, stuffy writing – unless you count the Brainstrain Award.

5. Get priceless feedback

Plain Language Awards judges are leaders in their field – not just in New Zealand and Australia, but worldwide.

When you enter the Plain Language Awards, even if you don’t win, you’ll receive judges’ feedback outlining what you’re doing well and where to focus to improve. An entry fee of $65 to $125 plus GST is a small price to pay for that kind of value.

6. Recognise your talented staff

Those who excel at clear writing have usually had training, but not necessarily years of experience. Your strongest plain language writer may be a new hire, intern or office junior.

Recognising talented employees helps retain them. Entering the awards gives your best writers a chance to shine.

7. Position your brand with the best

Industry leaders are often known for simplicity and elegance – think Apple, Xero, Netflix and Ikea.

Simplicity doesn’t happen by accident. Leading companies invest heavily in it because they know it’s critical to success.

If your brand aspires to be the best, put your communication to the test.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

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