Appearances are deceptive. What is apparently a simple and effective message is usually the product of long and careful crafting. This process is impossible without a sound grasp of language from the ground up. So whether it’s copy writing from scratch, a light edit or major surgery involving a complete rethink of an existing document, let us craft you a leaner, cleaner and more concise read that can be understood and acted on after one reading. Of course, while editing we rigorously maintain the original meaning and intent and never change facts or figures.
Below are some recent examples of our plain English copywriting and editing.
Tone of Voice and Style Guide for Telstra Digital
APM was commissioned to develop Telstra Digital’s Tone of Voice and Style Guide to complement existing tone of voice materials and provide further clarity around tone, style, grammar etc., covering general tone of voice guidelines and how to apply them to copy.
We connect worlds. Our customers’ worlds. Customers are at the heart of everything we say and do. Basically they should feel that it’s all about them. When we speak to them, speak in their language and on their terms. Keep it conversational and easy to read. And avoid jargon, customers don’t think in technical terms.
Some of our technology is complicated so we can’t expect everyone to understand all of it. But we can tell them exactly how our products and services connect people to friends and families, entertain households and connect entire homes.
Better writing tips
Only write something if it benefits someone. After all, reading our content should be an uplifting experience.
Be clear and helpful. Our customers have to navigate our site by themselves, so your copy and text should guide them, as if there were an actual Telstra representative there to help.
Keep it short. Write short succinct sentences.
Write for scanners and skimmers. Break information into bitesize units, using two-sentence paragraphs introduced by frequent sub-headings (at least one per screen). Bulleted or numbered lists help customers to digest information at a glance.
The Industry Sustainability Working Committee Advisory Report
The Department of State Development, Business and Innovation commissioned an Industry Sustainability Working Committee to liaise with industry, research and educational organisations and provide strategic advice to the government on industry sustainability issues. APM edited the final draft for plain English as well as advising on structural changes to ensure the recommendations were clearly and logically expressed.
The Industry Sustainability Working Committee (ISWC) will give practical advice to business about environmental sustainability. By doing so, we will help government deliver long-term benefits to Victorian business and the economy.
One of the Committee’s key messages is that sustainability needs to be a core priority for business. Sustainability is not a fad or fringe issue. It’s a way for business to lower costs and be resilient against long-term challenges like climate change and population growth.
In essence, tomorrow starts today. And we are acting now to ensure businesses are competitive in the future.
Department of Human Services – Services Connect
Victoria’s Department of Human Services was reforming its human services system to deliver more effective and connected services. Called Services Connect, the new system would touch on all parts of the Department, including how it identifies and plans for client needs and how it offers and delivers services. A brochure was needed that explained these significant changes to a broad audience. A number of case studies also needed to be prepared.
Services Connect is a new way of working that upends the traditional welfare model by empowering our clients to take control of their lives.Our new, simpler approach will build a genuine relationship between each client and a key worker who can coordinate multiple services and act as a single point of service. Together, the key worker and the client will plan the needs of the client’s entire family, rather than just the client in isolation.
RACV Annual Report
The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) provides roadside assistance, vehicle, home and contents insurance, personal and car loans and more. Andrew Pegler Media wrote the RACV Annual Report after interviewing RACV management. We have extensive experience editing and writing annual reports for government and corporations. Past work includes annual reports for Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, Department of Transport, Sustainability Victoria, Sensis, NAB and Computershare.
The year in claims
The sharp rise in extreme weather events during the past three years has profoundly impacted communities across Victoria. In response, RACV has stood by its members, paying out claims and helping communities rebuild.
Following the hailstorms of March 2010, RACV received 40,000 claims; we continued to manage these claims into the 2010/2011 financial year. At all times we provided adaptable, empathetic and compassionate service. We sourced specialised dent repairers from New Zealand, Malaysia, Germany and the UK. We established six hail response centres in affected areas. And our Mobile Emergency Rapid Response Vehicle caravan travelled to Rowville to provide on-the-spot claim lodgements and vehicle assessments.
Rio Tinto corporate and community
Rio Tinto is one of the world’s largest mining and exploration companies and APM has worked with it on a number of projects. We edited the Rio Australia brochure for plain English and for structure. We also wrote a number of stories on Rio’s work in the community which involved research and interviewing skills. An extract from one of those stories follows.
Lou Bavoillot was born on a pastoral station and spent his early working life as a contract musterer in Western Australia and the Top End. Until, that is, he more or less fell into mining after being asked to sit on a dozer for a few weeks.
“And I’m still here,” Lou says, twenty years later.
Now Lou reckons he has found his calling as the superintendent of Gooring Jimbila, a joint venture between Doorn Djil and Gelganyam Investments. Gooring Jimbila employs and trains young Indigenous men to work on infrastructure maintenance at Rio’s Argyle Diamond Mine.
UBank weekly economics and finance blog
Andrew Pegler writes a humorous, plain English and educational blog for Ubank, commenting on domestic and international economics and finance. The weekly blog attracts about 2000 readers and contributes to Ubank’s highly successful social media strategy.
Read the blog: http://bit.ly/2SMjWb
Tone of voice guide for Royal Automobile Association of South Australia
The Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) commissioned a tone of voice guide to better reflect its transformation into a more contemporary, innovative and progressive organisation. With a more consistent and distinctive way of talking to its members, it is now easier to recognise and relate to.
Times are changing and so are we. We’ve been around for over 100 years which means we’ve learnt a thing or two.One of which is you’ve got to change with the times. We’re transforming into a more contemporary, innovative and progressive organisation, one that speaks in a modern,conversational tone. This means writing like we talk, more naturally. A good test is to ask yourself: Does that sound like something I’d say?
Over the next few pages we explore how our values and personality traits are reflected in the way we communicate with our customers and each other:
■ Reliable and responsible
■ Honest and trustworthy
■ Innovative and progressive
Sensis Sustainability Report
Sensis required a plain English edit of its Sustainability Report. The edit called for a consistent language and voice throughout, the checking of grammar and punctuation and the correct positioning of trademarks, all in accordance with house style. The end product was a clearer, more concise read for all stakeholders.
This report summarises our Sustainability Strategy and commitments, and the performance and impacts of our Australian operations. Our international operations are covered in the Finance and Governance section.
This report is based on the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G3 guidelines. These guidelines make comparing ourselves to other companies a lot easier. They also identify key sustainability metrics and issues.
Based on feedback, this report also details our performance in the Workplace, Marketplace, Community and Environment. To improve our depth of reporting we’ve identified key statistics, achievements, case studies, areas of focus, and commitments for the year ahead in each of these areas.
NAB’s Help, Guidance and Advice websites
APM helped conceive content and wrote the copy for three microsites that support NAB’s Help, Guidance and Advice imperative. The sites target potential and existing NAB customers with wise, open and honest advice in plain English. Subject matter includes life events, money basics and choosing banking products.
In the words of entrepreneur Jim Rohn, “if you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you”. Goals take you closer to what you want in life and where you want to go and most importantly they offer choice. Setting goals and developing your financial strategy today gives you that choice and working out what your personal goals are is a good place to start.