Give it to me in plain English


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“Give it to me in plain English.” My children are grown now; but when they were teenagers I can still remember a few conversations that started with that phrase. As a parent, I just wanted a straight explanation. Come to think of it, as a public citizen and consumer I welcome communications that are clear, simple and jargon-free. That’s why I find it interesting that the federal government is rolling out the Plain Writing Act. The term ‘plain writing’ means writing that the intended audience can readily understand and use because that writing is clear, concise and well-organized. It takes full effect in October, when federal agencies must start writing plainly in all new or substantially revised documents produced for the public.

“Federal writers are not supposed to be creating great literature,” the guidelines say. “You are communicating requirements, how to get benefits, how to stay safe and healthy, and other information to help people in their lives.”

What do you think? Can clarity be legislated? Can an organization that turns out boxcars of confusing benefit forms, tangled rules and foggy pronouncements change its culture? It’ll be tough because federal employees tend to write with their bosses and agency lawyers in mind,

Does your marketing organization deliver in plain English? Review your content and ask yourself … does this copy resonate with its intended audience? It’s something to think about.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


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