When it comes to communicating clearly with customers, some companies fail spectacularly.
Instead of sharing their message simply and effectively, these companies introduce business jargon at every opportunity, resulting in baffling language that risks distracting readers.
Businesses also often neglect to edit or proofread their materials, which can look unprofessional and put off potential buyers.
But some organisations are getting it right – such as the winners of this month’s Plain English Awards for Ireland, run by the National Adult Literacy Agency in Dublin.
The awards are intended to recognise and reward organisations for their use of plain English.
A company developing electricity networks might not seem the most obvious candidate for such an award. But this year’s overall winner prize went to EirGrid, the firm that manages and operates Ireland’s electricity transmission grid.
The independent judging panel awarded EirGrid the prize for its document – Have your say – how we develop the electricity grid, and how you can influence our plans – demonstrating that even the most complex subjects can be communicated clearly with a bit of effort.
“We developed these awards as we want to create a public preference for organisations that choose to communicate in plain English,” said Inez Bailey, CEO of the National Adult Literacy Agency.
“We were delighted to get so many entries from organisations around the country as everyone benefits from clear information, written in plain English.”
In addition to EirGrid, prizes were awarded to the following organisations:
- Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for their document ‘Going to court as a witness’.
- Down Syndrome Ireland for their employment letter and survey.
- Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre and the Marie Keating Foundation for Be Breast Cancer Aware information.
- Irish Lung Fibrosis Association for their National Patient Charter.
- Taxback.com for their Guide to the PAYE tax system.
- The Heartbeat Trust for their poster about the main symptoms of heart failure.
This year’s programme attracted entries from more than fifty organisations committed to using plain English in their communications.
Congratulating the winners, Bailey said: “They have won this award for thinking of the people who use their service and putting them first.”
Declan Black, Managing Partner at awards sponsor Mason Hayes & Curran, said: “As a law firm we are delighted to be promoting the use of plain English rather than legal gobbledegook!
“We hope that our support of this award contributes to the use of plain language in everyday communications and we congratulate the winners on a job well done.”
Ready to communicate in plain English? Our editing and proofreading services can help.