This month marks a very special anniversary for Plain Text clients. We’ve reached double figures. We’re ten years old!
So first things first. We’d like to thank you for continuing to read our occasional email updates – and for supporting us with your writing commissions over the past decade.
In this post, we’re celebrating our great age and sharing with you our journey from pedants to pragmatists. And we’re offering our popular Words that Work training sessions again.
So please read on. And do get in touch if you’d like to discuss writing with us.
When Paul Waddington and Paul Nero left the corporate world behind in 2001, we were determined to help organizations eliminate gobbledegook. As you’ll read in the story of our journey from pedants to pragmatists, below, we now realise that aim was somewhat ambitious. Perhaps even wrongheaded. But we had broader goals too. We wanted to lift the burden of written communications from executives, so they could concentrate on their day jobs. We wanted to bring clarity to previously opaque copy. And we wanted to make the process of producing written communications an enjoyable one for our clients. In short, we wanted to be nice people to deal with. Ten years on, those aims haven’t changed.
Since then, we’ve had the pleasure of working with some wonderful people in some fantastic organizations. We’ve built strong relationships with our clients, many of whom have taken us with them when they’ve moved jobs. That always gives us a little buzz.
We’ve also enjoyed developing the copywriting careers of some fine business writers. Some have moved on to other jobs, in advertising agencies or client organizations. Some remain with us to this day. To those people too, we say thank you. Excellent copywriters are not easy to come by. We’re honoured that you choose to work with Plain Text.
So to everyone who has played a part in the Plain Text story over the past decade, our thanks and appreciation. Here’s to the next ten years.
How things change. When Plain Text opened its doors to business in 2001, we must admit we were sometimes pedantic. Pedantry gave us pleasure. A badge we wore with pride. We were honoured to be upholders of the Queen’s English and we hated business speak.
Then along came the book Eats Shoots and Leaves, in which author Lynn Truss wrote about the grocer’s apostrophe; the grocers’ apostrophes, or the apostrophes of grocers, depending on plurality and ownership. Reading it, we realised that while there are plenty of enthusiastic pedants out there, our clients, largely, weren’t among them.
What they cared most about, we came to understand, is whether or not writing makes an impact. Not whether there are a few split infinitives, a bit of jargon, or Capitalization The Copywriters Don’t Like. If it reads well, is ‘on brand’ and fires up your audience, it’s doing its job.
So please forgive us if we’ve ever tried to translate your company’s way of speaking. We realised sharpish that our job is not to change copy to some grammatical ideal, but to make it sell: an idea, a product, a point of view.
And after all, language isn’t fixed — a fact we noted evades the Queens English Society. We don’t want to be the Canutes holding back its development. We’re delighted that ‘innit’ is now in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Nor is there a single, correct, ‘plain’ way of speaking, as we opined when the Plain English Society did its annual naming and shaming exercise last year. If writing resonates with its audience, that’s fine. Sometimes – sorry, pedants – ‘management-speak’ is fine: it’s what managers want to read.
Satirist Craig Brown wrote beautifully about the Society of Pedants and the problematic issue of what they should (or more accurately “it should”) be called. Ten years on, it still makes us smile.
As copy pragmatists, we understand that people don’t want to be lectured about the correct use of apostrophes, how to spot a gerund or whether to capitalise a bullet point. So our Words That Work writing training sessions are fun as well as informative. In less than 90 minutes, we’ll arrange for the Incredible Hulk, deceased romantic author Barbara Cartland and the Pope to appear in your offices in quick succession.
When you book a Words That Work session, you’ll gain a fresh perspective on ‘How writing can help you and your business to get what you want’.
It’s free for Plain Text clients and contacts. And it’s suitable for anyone who writes anything that needs to have an impact: emails, presentations, tweets, blogs, web pages, thought leadership.
If you’re interested, we can handle between 4 and 20 people per session. To book, get in touch via our contacts page.
Ts and Cs – First come, first served, subject to availability; we will only charge travel expenses for seminars held outside Great Britain.