International consultancy Castalia was the big winner at the 2015 Plain English Awards held at Wellington’s City Gallery last night.
It’s the second time Castalia has taken the prestigious Plain English Champion — Best Organisation award in the 10 years since the awards began. Chief executive David Ehrhardt credits the consultancy’s plain language communication as a significant factor for its international growth.
Castalia has won services worth $10,000 from New Zealand’s plain English specialists and founding sponsor, Write Limited.
Pamela Todd, Castalia’s communications manager, said: "Our chief executive inspires us all to produce documents that report our analysis clearly, accurately, and easily - even though the subjects we write about are often complex."
Other champion organisations recognised
The two other awards in the Champion category went to Careers NZ for Best Individual or Team, and the Ministry of Social Development for Best Project.
The Best Plain English Turnaround award went to OSPRI, who had a clean sweep of all the finalist spots.
Praise for best documents and websites
Awards for the Best Plain English Document went to the Commerce Commission for the public sector, and to Beef + Lamb for the private sector.
The Best Plain English Website award for a public sector organisation or NGO went to the Department of Internal Affairs for www.govt.nz. Woods the Creative Agency took the private sector award for Best Website, for the second year running, this time for www.enzedexotics.com.
Legal, Technical Communicator, and Annual Report categories
For the first time, the awards have a category for Best Legal Document, won by OnePath Life (NZ) Limited.
The Best Plain English Technical Communicator is Meredith Evans.
Mercer has won Best Plain English Annual Report, building on its success in the same category last year.
Spotlight on the humble sentence
Statistics New Zealand has won the award for Best Sentence Transformation, for the second year in a row.
People’s Choice — the best and the worst
Members of the public also submitted entries for two categories. The People’s Choice awards, sponsored by Consumer NZ, recognise the best and worst in government and corporate communications. Westpac won the Best Communication award for its web content about the often-complex topic of home loans. Of this entry the judges said: "This is a well-constructed website that explains a complex range of options and considerations in clear, straightforward language. Taking out a home loan is an important decision, made even more so by the current housing affordability crisis."
The People’s Choice Worst ‘Brainstrain’ award went to another financial organisation. Funds Administration NZ Limited received this dubious accolade for its Lifestages KiwiSaver Scheme Investor Update. The person who nominated it said: "The final paragraph of this update asks if the reader is confused. I was definitely confused!"
The judges said: "Sadly, this document was a unanimous choice for the Brainstrain award. The Investor Update is not written for its audience, and we felt sorry for any investor trying to draw value from it.
The chair of the WriteMark Trust, Gregory Fortuin, said reaching the 10th anniversary for the Awards shows clear communication is becoming a habit for many entrants.
"More and more organisations want to show they communicate clearly. They recognise that clarity is what readers need. Meeting that need is simply the right thing to do. And, of course, clear communication creates a business advantage too," he said.