Hello, and welcome!
I’m a lifelong communicator, mostly for the government, and mostly in California. This means I reach out to people — media, community groups, influencers, and elected officials — to explain what things and programs we’re working on. Hopefully, this sparks a conversation.
I got into this business when the press release was king. Then, one day Mark Zuckerberg was born, and it changed the way people communicate. The press release was still important, but social media made it so much easier to bypass the media and take our message right to the residents. Of course, with social media and the 24/7 news cycle, news became more competitive. That should have made government communications clearer and more concise… but it didn’t.
I did my best in writing, but I anguished as government officials continued to put out all kinds of governmental gobbledegook and undecipherable jargon. How many times have you read a government brochure or flyer, read it (probably more than once), and still had no idea quite what they were saying? This assumes you didn’t toss is in your TLDR inbox (also known as your recycle bin).
When I took a job as a county outreach manager in Washington State, I loved seeing how streamlined communications were. My fellow colleagues and I trained heavily in plain language — the art of turning that gobbledegook and undecipherable jargon into simple, understandable words, while respecting the fact that our residents have other things to do with their evening other than read lengthy government mailers.
When I returned to my native California, I was saddened that Golden State government doesn’t focus on plain language. Bottom line: what is it we want our residents to do? I suffered as I watched government officials pump out more gobbledegook and jargon.
I realized there’s a gap in services to Californians and an opportunity for me to help. I founded Write On California — California’s only government-focused plain language trainers. We look at state and federal plain language laws (yes, there are laws! Are you in compliance?) and work with your agency to put your communications into something your residents can understand, respect, and spread.
I know California is a special, amazing place. You probably do too. But let’s make sure our residents, tourists, and business leaders fully enjoy the government services you offer! Sweet, huh! Write on, California!