Spring 2018 Newsletter
Recipe for Plain Language Delight
Served May 8th in Washington, D.C.
Take one finely tuned Content Strategy Workshop, add a frothy networking cocktail hour, and top it off with the sparkling ClearMark Awards Banquet – all served at the historic National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Registration closes in early May so sign up today!
Join Kristina Halvorson, CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, for a hands-on Content Strategy workshop.
Web content is hard, complicated, expensive, time-consuming, and often overwhelming. And though it’s why people come to your website, it’s the #1 killer of a good user experience. This workshop will help you produce better, more effective, more manageable web content.
|Step 2||Network with your plain language colleagues. Connect with experts from across North America during a cocktail reception at the National Press Club. Your ClearMark Awards ticket includes all drinks and food during the cocktail hour and banquet.|
Celebrate with fellow plain language aficionados at the 9th annual ClearMark Awards.
Enjoy an evening celebrating the 2018 ClearMark winners in the company of emcee Hannah Duggan, an award winning actress, comedian, and founder of Buntport Theater in Denver, Colorado.
Peter Loge, our keynote, will speak on “The Future of Plain Language.”
An Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University, Peter has more than 20 years of experience in communications at the Food and Drug Administration and held senior positions with Senator Edward Kennedy and three members of the U.S. House of Representatives. We also look forward to acknowledging our ClearMark Award sponsors, including Corporate Sponsor, Visible Thread.
Not a member? Become a member to get member pricing for workshops and events. (Note: All prices above are in USD.)
“Too Long; Didn’t Read” Act
The Too Long; Didn’t Read Act introduced on March 16, 2018, by Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA), Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) would direct the Office of Management and Budget to require agencies to place important action items at the beginning of communications with constituents when they are allowed or required to complete an action item. The clearly marked section at the top would include the following pieces of information:
- The action item
- If a response is required or optional
- The deadline, if applicable
- How to complete the action item
- The agency’s contact information
What makes this act different?
Rather than talking about short words or short sentences, it captures the essence of plain language: helping a reader to know up front what action to take and how to do it.
How can you help?
Contact Representatives Moulton (202.225.8020), Meadows (202.225.6401), and Loebsack (202.225.6576) to thank them for their efforts. Encourage your own representatives to support the Too Long; Didn’t Read Act. Find your representative here https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
To follow the bill’s progress, get started here.
It’s almost board election time
Thank you to those who took part in the nominating process for seats on the Center’s board of directors. We are looking to fill four Regional Director positions representing the major Census Bureau areas—North, South, Midwest, and West, as well as several at-large seats on the board. Watch your email for the ballot and be sure to cast your vote.
Center Annual Report
In addition to planning an election, members of the board’s executive committee have been busy drafting the Center’s annual report. We have much to report and are proud of our plain language history, including:
- 8 (soon to be 9) years of annual ClearMark Award competitions
- 6 years of Annual Federal Plain Language Report Cards
- 1 published ebook
Not to mention countless hours of:
- Advocacy to advance legislation like the Plain Regulation Act, the Too Long; Didn’t Read Act, and the landmark Plain Writing Act, as well as local plain language efforts across the country.
- Awareness around the importance of (and consequences of not having) plain language, through partnerships with Time magazine to critique the privacy policies of several major companies, and programs like the WTF Awards to call out “Work That Failed” to communicate clearly.
- Training for non-profits, local and state governments.
- Education for our plain language colleagues through sponsored workshops featuring internationally known experts.
- Partnership with plain language groups world wide to promote surveys and develop international plain language standards.
There’s also a lot to look forward to, including exciting plans to expand our report card program and that second ebook. Stay tuned!
Want to join the fun?
In addition to being a part of all the efforts described above, we need volunteers to partner with us on:
- Digital content strategy
- Financial planning and management
- Annual fund drives
- Blog management
- Book publishing and management
- Strategic planning
- Project management
- Newsletter development
Feel free to forward this newsletter to someone who might be interested in joining or volunteering for the Center. Encourage them to become a member!
No one could accuse Brooke Ellis of shying away from a challenge.
For her inaugural engagement with the Center for Plain Language, Brooke took on the biggest volunteer opportunity we have – the annual ClearMark Awards. She joins Solstice Benefits colleague and Center board member, Alissa Gavrilescu as co-chair for the 2018 awards event scheduled for May 8 in Washington, D.C.
Planning the 2018 ClearMark Awards is no small feat, especially when you consider it honors the best in plain language communication from across North America. Plain language communicators are known for their attention to detail and Brooke is up to the task.
“Brooke’s work in identifying keynote speakers, to managing costs and communication are invaluable to the Center,” says Alissa, adding, “We greatly appreciate her organization, hard work, and innovative ideas.”
When asked how things are going, Brooke reports, “I’ve had a great experience so far. Everyone at the Center is friendly, helpful, dedicated, and a resource of knowledge.” While this year marks the Center’s 9th annual awards event, it is the first for co-chairs Brooke and Alissa and they’re putting their unique spin on it.
Brooke credits her professional health literacy and plain language skills for helping prepare her to take on this mammoth volunteer task, adding, “As a content marketer in the health insurance industry, plain language is important to me. Our company makes it a priority to communicate in clear, relatable language.” And now she’s playing an instrumental role in recognizing other individuals and organizations that do the same.
Brooke’s wish for plain language? “It would be nice to build an understanding that concise, simple writing often has more value than length and excessive wordiness.”
We second that! Thank you, Brooke, for all you do to promote plain language and clarity on behalf of the Center.
Get ready for some Spring reading!
Center member Janet Arrowood announced the publication of her book, Plain Language, Please, “a step-by-step, example-filled guide to the critical aspects of writing in plain English—plain language—the type of writing people understand and to which they respond favorably.” Bulk copy discounts may be available through the publisher, Rowman & Littlefield. Check it out here.
Center member Dr. Andreas Baumert announced the publication of his new book Plain German. Dr. Baumert describes the book as a combination of theory and plain language recommendations for the German language. Check it out here.
|Upcoming Plain Language Events|
May 9 – 11, 2018
The Institute for Healthcare Advancement’s 17th Annual Health Literacy Conference: Strengthening Communities to Improve Health Equity and Health Literacy
Hotel Irvine in Irvine, California. Learn more.
June 30, 2018
The 2nd Annual Form-a-Palooza in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Lab @ D.C. and the Office of the Mayor, this is a public engagement forum where community members work with design and behavioral science experts to rework several high-profile D.C. government forms. Last year, it resulted in five revised forms, including a driver’s license application. What will be the results this year? Stay tuned.
October 25 – 27, 2018
The Clarity 2018 Conference: Plain Language in Modern Times Clarity is a professional association that promotes the use of plain legal language internationally.
Hyatt Regency Hotel in Montreal. Learn more.