September 2017 Newsletter
Volunteer Spotlight: Lee Clark Johns
How are we doing? That’s the question that prompted my easy “yes” when I was asked to judge entries for the ClearMark Awards. After three years as a judge (the last two as head judge), I can assert, “We – plain language practitioners and products – are doing fine!”
The “we” includes North American plain language practitioners who enter their English- and Spanish-language documents and digital projects created for government, not-for-profit, and for-profit organizations. The ClearMark judges, who evaluate and write feedback on each entry, represent experienced experts throughout the world. A major pleasure of being head judge is working with these talented evaluators across time zones – from New Zealand and Australia, to the U.S., to Ireland and Belgium. The “fine” proclaimed above represents the high quality of the entries – yes, written in plain language, but also focused on meeting the information needs of the readers, illustrating concepts with superb graphics, and creating useful documents and web-based products that empower users to do what is needed efficiently and effectively.
So why do I volunteer for the Center for Plain Language? At the end of my 40-year career helping corporate and government clients communicate more effectively, I want to encourage other consultants. What better way than evaluating their work, making supportive suggestions for further improvement, and honoring the best of the best.
Introducing “Member News”
Did you change jobs? Earn an award? Let’s share the good news! Our new “Member News” section features updates from Center members. Submit a brief description for publication in our next issue. Please include your name, your news and how you champion plain language. Email is optional.
Kate Goggin - Kate is temporarily serving as a Public Affairs Specialist and Media Contact for NOAA’s National Ocean Service from July 31 - October 31, 2017. In her permanent role as Communications Specialist for NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration’s Assessment and Restoration Division, Kate translates complex technical text into everyday terms for websites, blogs and information campaigns. Email: Kathleen.Goggin@noaa.gov
Meet Your New Board Members
The Center is delighted to announce the addition of two new board members, Donna Creason and Alissa Gavrilescu. Each was recently elected to a three-year term. Congratulations, Donna and Alissa!
Donna Creason is President/CEO of Summit Publication Design, LLC, a tech-creative design and development company. She is a quality-driven communication and management professional with 20+ years’ experience in computer information systems, content creation and management, document design and technical communication. She is an active member of the Center and recently assumed the role of Executive Editor to collaborate, develop, and produce the Center’s first eBook, Clear Communication with Clear Results.
Alissa Gavrilescu has over 15 years’ experience across a variety of industries, in both Fortune 500 and startup environments. She is Director of Marketing and Communications at Solstice Benefits where she develops and maintains brand visibility, creates customer value, and achieves client top-of-mind awareness in new and emerging markets. She founded an award-winning health literacy and plain language program at Solstice and at the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) where she serves as the Vice Chair of Communications. Her work creating consumer communications without confusing insurance jargon earned several national and international awards, including a 2016 ClearMark Award of Distinction.
Center Board Elects New Officers
This summer, the Center’s board of directors elected a slate of new officers. The officers serve as the executive committee guiding the Center’s strategic and operational efforts. All executive committee members also serve on the board.
2017-2018 Executive Committee
Chair - Susan Kleimann, President, Kleimann Communication Group
Vice Chair - Jeff Greer, Associate Director Content Strategy, MRM//McCann
Corporate Secretary - Christopher “Chip” Crane, CEO, CPoint Consulting
Recording Secretary - Jennifer Pearce, Founder, Plain Language Health
Treasurer - Julie Clement, Principal, J Clement Communications
It’s Report Card Time
The Center will release the 2017 Federal Report Card on October 12th – just in time for International Plain Language Day on October 13th. The Federal Report Card gives major federal agencies a grade on the quality of their plain language awareness as part of their compliance with the Plain Writing Act of 2010. In preparation, Center volunteers are analyzing and grading submissions from the agencies.
This year we asked plain language officials from each agency to provide a sample Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page and a data infographic. These submissions showcase the best-written and visual communications each agency has to offer. Look for news about the Federal Report Card release in the media and on the Center’s website.
Wondering how to start a plain language program where you work?
There’s an ebook for that! Written by plain language experts, Clear Communications with Clear Results is packed with tips and tricks for how to get people onboard where you work. Learn how five organizations launched clear communications programs.
Did we mention it is free to all Center members? Extend your membership for your free book. We’ll send a confirmation email with a link to download the eBook.
Check it out on Amazon. The holidays are just around the corner. It’s the perfect gift for the plain language people in your life.
2017 Best of the Best
In case you missed it, the Center celebrated a new crop of plain language champions during the 2017 ClearMark Awards Banquet held May 9 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Awards recognized the best long (more than five pages) and short plain language entries in four categories, as well as the best Spanish plain language entry. Grand ClearMark Awards went to one English and one Spanish entry selected from among the category winners. Scroll down for Grand ClearMark and ClearMark category winners or view all 2017 category winners and finalists.
The Best of the Best – 2017 Grand ClearMark Winners
- English – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Social Security Administration – Planning for Retirement
- Spanish – University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Center for Health Literacy – How to Talk to Your Doctor HANDbook
ClearMark Award Category Winners
- Long – Winner: InJoy Health Education – Understanding Your Newborn Guide
- Short – March of Dimes – How long should I wait before getting pregnant again?
- Long – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Behind on Bills? Start With One Step
- Short – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources – State Park Back-of-map Redesign
- Long – CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Education Juridique Communautaire Ontario) – Steps in a Family Law Case
- Short – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Social Security Administration – Planning for Retirement
- Long – Emmi – Health Insurance: What You Need to Know Emmi Program
- Short – AARP – AARP Livable Communities Weekly e-Newsletter
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Center for Health Literacy – How to Talk to Your Doctor HANDbook
Nominate an entry for the 2018 ClearMark Awards starting January 1st.
Visit the Center’s submissions page for all the details.
No! Not that WTF! We mean Work That Failed.
Unlike their “WonderMark” predecessors, the WTF Awards accept nominations year round because communication failures can happen anytime. The point is to have some fun and inspire organizations to do better next time.
Here’s how it works:
- Nominate a communication failure of any kind (document, image or link) for a WTF Award.
- Judges select communication failure finalists each quarter.
- The worst of the worst “win” WTF Awards and publicity at the Center’s annual banquet.
- In the spirit of encouraging good plain language behavior, all WTF Award nominees are invited to revise and resubmit for the chance to win a TurnAround Award.
Volunteer to judge the WTF Awards.
Do you love filling out forms?
Probably not, and neither do most people. But our nation’s capital is trying to change that, and the Center was there to help. On July 2, Center members Barbra Kingsley, Annetta Cheek, and Joanne Locke participated in Form-a-Palooza. At this short public engagement forum, nearly 100 community members worked with design and behavioral science experts to rework several high-profile D.C. government forms.
The goal was to create forms that are easy for D.C. residents to understand and fill out. Participants left the event with 25 prototypes for the five forms they tackled. Throughout September the D.C. government will continue with graphic design revisions, work on language translation, host focus groups to test the forms, and do a final review with legal and agency leadership. Maybe eventually forms will be loveable!
‘Tis the Season of Plain Language
Planning something special? Let us know.
October 1-31 – Health Literacy Month
October 13 – International Plain Language Day
Connect with Center members at these plain language events. Let us know if you’re going.
Plain Language Association International – 11th International Conference September 21 - 23, 2017 in Graz, Austria
Joint meeting of the International Conference on Communication in Healthcare (ICCH) and the Health Literacy Annual Research Conference (HARC) October 8 - 11, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland