*Watch Newsroom’s James Elliott announce the winners in the video player above*

Newsroom is pleased to announce the winners in the 14th annual People’s Choice Plain English Awards. These 2019 Awards recognise the best and worst in government and corporate communications as nominated anonymously by members of the public.

The award for the People’s Choice — Best Plain English Communication goes to Accuro Health Insurance for their website www.accuro.co.nz

The person who nominated this website said: 

It’s a beautifully clear, simple website. I found it clear and logical.

The international panel of judges who reviewed this nomination said:

This website is a very good example of plain English used to support a business to communicate clearly and in an engaging way with as many New Zealand residents and citizens as possible. I’d expect it to have a positive impact on sales to new customers and existing customer retention and engagement.

This is a very strong site. It gives a great first impression, drawing the reader in from the start. This is then followed up by concise and engaging content and a simple-to-navigate layout that makes it easy for readers to find and do what they need to.

[Accuro has] done a good job creating a user experience that is clear and helpful, which is refreshing for an insurance organisation!

The award for the People’s Choice Worst ‘Brainstrain’ Communication goes to Auckland Council for its Proposed Plan Change letter – clarifying the relationship between the Special Character Areas Overlay and underlying zone provisions within the Auckland Unitary Plan (see the letter below). 

The person who nominated this document said:

A good friend of mine came in waving her (copy of this letter) at me saying she had a master’s degree in English and couldn’t understand a word of it.

The international panel of judges who reviewed this nomination said:

This document is very difficult to understand, which disturbs me because it seems very important for landowners. Also, the writer portrays the content as unimportant, but I don’t think it is so, and this makes me suspicious.

The council is trying to bring a planning change to the attention of its ratepayers and residents. But it has failed miserably to think about how to get that message across in plain language. [The letter] appears to be written for people who understand council processes, not for those who will be most affected by the change.

The third component of this communication is already written in plain language, so the skills to write the rest in plain language exist. This is poor performance for a very important matter, and a huge opportunity missed. Many residents were frustrated by this communication. 

The People’s Choice Awards are held each year and form part of the Plain English Awards, which, as of this year, are held every second year. The full Plain English Awards will be held next year.

After 14 years of Awards, New Zealanders continue to reap the benefits of business and government using clear communication to engage with their clients, consumers, and customers. The Awards reinforce the element of care that lies behind reader-focused communications.

Awards founder, and CE of plain language consultancy Write Limited, Lynda Harris said care is one of the qualities associated with plain English that she holds closest to her heart. 

“People who choose to communicate in plain English do, by definition, care about their readers. They put the needs of their readers first as they think and write. They care about people, impact, and outcomes.’

For more information on the 2019 Plain English awards see www.plainenglishawards.org.nz 

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