Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Plain English please - enter the Writemark Awards!

On my recent foray into Wellington I finally met Lynda Harris of the Write Group after years of email contact.

Lynda has an amazing operation, offering plain language writing, editing and training to organisations long held in thrall by the spectre of ancient tongues ... now I think I could put that plainer...

Write Group works with law firms and government departments, among other clients, to help them say what they mean, so it can be understood.

Not an easy task!

They also run the annual Writemark Awards, which recognise clear, concise communication - and also have a people's choice award, where the public gets to name and shame the worst obfuscators.

Now it may be puzzling that I'm promoting a competitor to SimonYoungWriters. But one of my goals with SimonYoungWriters is to raise the perceived value of writing in the marketplace. The Writemark awards are one very public way this is already happening.

It's early days yet. Many businesspeople and professionals still labour under the assumption that "everyone can write". It's a true myth in that yes, everyone can write, but not everyone can write well. And not everyone can write skilfully in specific circumstances - such as direct marketing, conceptual advertising, fundraising, technical writing, or search engine optimisation.

But writers in every field face ... not so much discrimination as ignorance. In film we celebrate actors and directors, but struggle to name great screenwriters. In the media, experienced journalists are being laid off en masse, while freelance per word rates haven't gone up in 15 years. Most branding consultancies have dedicated design staff, but nary a writer to be seen - unless one of the strategic people in the company happen to also write.

Enough of the rant now. Just get your entries in for the Writemark awards this year - there's more info here.

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