Factorial – January 2011

Golden Bull winners

The Plain English Campaign announced its Golden Bull awards in December and one of the winners was this little gem:

‘These are cascaded to senior staff across the organisation through to frontline staff via a structured mechanism to facilitate ownership of data.’

And this response to a letter requesting an extra rubbish bin on medical grounds was another beauty.

‘With reference to your request for additional waste capacity, The Environmental Protection Act 1990 authorises Fife Council in making requirements with regard to receptacles for household waste and allows making provision with respect to size construction and maintenance of the receptacles. The criteria for granting applications for a 2nd or larger bins was approved by the Council to ensure maximum recycling over landfill.

To qualify for additional waste capacity Fife Council do require proof of evidence that information given against the criteria is correct. Under the Data Protection Act, we do not keep copies or record any of your personal details but failure to provide evidence may result in your application being refused.

Please complete and return the attached request form within 21 days. On receipt of the form, we may follow up with a visit to verify the information given before we are able to advise you whether your request will be granted.’

To read some of the other winners, visit http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/awards/golden-bull-awards/golden-bull-winners-2010.html

Top 10 PR blunders in Australia

According to Paul Hayman, Dynamic Business online, Australia’s top 10 PR disasters in 2010 were:

  1. Qantas – A380 fleet consecutive engine issues and passenger delays
  2. Commonwealth Bank – premium interest rate hikes
  3.  Labor Party – corporate backlash against the proposed ‘Resource Super Profits Tax’
  4. Melbourne Storm – salary cap scandal
  5. Stephanie Rice – homophobic comments posted via Twitter
  6. Canberra Raiders – Joel Monaghan ‘dog sex’ photo
  7. Virgin Blue – reservations and check-in system crash
  8. Matthew Newton – after alleged assault of then partner Rachel Taylor in Italy
  9. David Jones – CEO sexual assault scandal
  10. Lara Bingle – media relations following split with  Michael Clark


What do you think were the top PR blunders in Australia and globally? Email mary@themfactor.com.au 


H.W. Fowler (Fowler’s Modern English Usage) uses the term genteelism to describe words that substitute for everyday language. Genteelisms are generally longer words of French and Latin origin and are used in more formal writing. Some common examples with their everyday equivalent are:

assist – help
utilise – use
obtain – get
inquire – ask
place – put
cease – stop
terminate – end
thus – so

If you want to rid these words from your writing, there’s a comprehensive simple language guide at www.plainenglish.co.uk/files/alternative.pdf

Pet peeve

A reader’s pet peeve is the word virtually.

Coalition support was virtually unchanged at 43 per cent.
This is virtually unchanged from March last year.

What, he asks, is wrong with the word almost?

Board paper public course in Sydney

If you write board papers, you may be interested in a half-day public course I am running for Chartered Secretaries Australia (CSA).

Date and time
Wednesday, 16 February, 9:00am to 12:30pm.

$340 Member
$375 Affiliate
$405 Non-member

Level 10, 5 Hunter Street

For more information, visit http://www.csaust.com

Quote of the month

‘Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.’
Joan Didion, US author


online grammar
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