8 tips for clear & concise writing & why plain English matters

‘We need a more contemporary reimagining of our knowledge-based administrative flexibility.’

‘This is no time to bite the bullet with our global third-generation innovation.’

Do you understand the above? No, me neither. The texts were generated by the wonderful Plain English Campaign’s ‘gobbley gook machine’.

One of my favourite resources as a public relations professional is the Plain English Campaign website.  An ex-employee recommended the website to me over 15 years ago – most likely because I was a perpetrator of gobbley gookness. And, I have never looked back.

The Plain English Campaigners are big fans of clear and concise communications that have just the right tone and the all important reader in mind. They champion for straightforward language and have many supporters, one of which states that plain English “is much more effective than complicated jargon, pompous words, long sentences and endless paragraphs.”

You will find a wealth of fantastic resources on their website about the benefits of writing in plain English. They claim that the main advantages of writing in plain English are: a) it is faster to write; b) it is faster to read; and c) you get your message across more often, more easily and in a friendlier way.

You can find tips like the following on their website:

  1. Stop and think before you start writing. Make a note of the points you want to make in a logical order.
  2. Prefer short words. Long words will not impress your customers or help your writing style.
  3. Use everyday English whenever possible. Avoid jargon and legalistic words, and always explain any technical terms you have to use.  
  4. Keep your sentence length down to an average of 15 to 20 words. Try to stick to one main idea in a sentence.
  5. Use active verbs as much as possible. Say ‘we will do it’ rather than ‘it will be done by us’.
  6. Be concise.
  7. Imagine you are talking to your reader. Write sincerely, personally, in a style that is suitable and with the right tone of voice.
  8. And always check that your writing is clear, helpful, human and polite

You will find also find a wealth of fantastic resources including the following free guides:

Remember nobody, especially these days, has time to wade through copy that could be explained in just a few simple sentences.

If you are in the field of public relations, what are your thoughts on writing in plain English? Do you know of an equivalent guide in other languages such as Cantonese?


Thanks for reading. We have many other articles about public relations for you to read. Have you read our blog post on ’99+ reasons to do Public Relations’ yet?


Press releases still matter. They remain the main way to supply journalists with easy to digest information in a recognisable format. They are how we achieve the majority of great coverage for our clients.

We previously mentioned the importance of writing a great press release in our blog article 6 Actions to Take Before Engaging the Media. In this post we are going to explore 9 Vital Components of a Great Press Release.

  1. First things first, you need a great heading including a news angle to draw people in (same heading can be used in your email to the media). Journalists receive 100s of emails per day. Your release needs to stand out.
  2. Traditionally every release should include who, what, where, when and why in the first paragraph so that journalists can quickly identify whether this is a story that they want to write about or not.
  3. Keep it short!  Journalists have very little time. It needs to be short, to the point and in plain English (try not to waffle or use language only an expert from your sector would understand). Trust me, no one wants to read pages and pages of how great you are with multiple product photos embedded into the copy.
  4. Include links to photos that can be downloaded and also a link to your website and social media channels. Journalists will check these out. If you are lucky, organisations will create a link back to your website but this is not guaranteed as remember this is earned media and not paid media.
  5. The release should be written in third person and not as a piece of sales material that talks directly to the audience. Let the journalist draft the article for his or her readers.
  6. Ensure that it is relevant and newsworthy to the market you are pitching. Is it new, relevant, good or bad news, related to an existing story, the biggest, the smallest, timely?  
  7. Include a quote from a spokesperson, someone senior and available to be interviewed at a moment’s notice.
  8. Add your contact details,email and mobile no, to the press release so that media can follow up with you instantly.
  9. Include a boiler plate at the end of the release – this is a short bio of your brand or organisation so that the journalist clearly understands when you were established, who you are, what you do and why you do it.

Remember, don’t pitch to a journalist unless they write about your sector and it is relevant to them, otherwise it is spam and they may never open another email from you again or worse shame you on social media for not doing your research properly.

Do you take a look at our post 99 Reasons to do PR.

99+ important reasons why you should do Public Relations

Public Relations can be hugely beneficial to organisations in so many different ways. With this in mind we have pulled together 100 reasons why organisations should consider having an inhouse PR department or use an agency.

Let us know if you can think of any more benefits in the comments section below!

Public Relations….

1increases awareness of your brand
2can change behaviours
3increases sales
4drives website visitors
5can attract investors
6helps you to tell your story simply
7attracts talent
8builds communities
9highlights your corporate social responsibility activities
10engages the community
11makes you successful
12discovers brand sentiment
13engages customers
14enables you to charge more for your services
15is much much more than media relations
16can increase queries about your business
17can visually tell your story
18profiles your executive team
19obtains global reach
20builds trust
21provides effective mediation
22increases SEO
23announces new employees
24establishes you as a thought leader
25creates memorable speeches
26cultivates the perfect soundbite
27refines your key messages
28drives enquiries
29creates interest
30increases profits
31evokes emotions
32changes perceptions
33encourages brand recall
34shares knowledge
35generates excitement
36will react quickly to any issues
37creates loyalty
38focuses on human interest
39creates empathy
40generates media interest months later
41creates an online presence far longer than advertising
42establishes thought leadership
43dissolves disputes
44improves employee relationships
45reaches large audiences
46helps you to get your story in front of the right person
47transforms your business
48converts sales leads
49delights customers
50helps you to be found online
51generates fresh new ideas
52has a proven return on investment
53attracts the media
54starts conversations
55generates great social media content
56is shareable
57generates word of mouth
58helps to raise money
59steers the conversation
60helps you to get close to your customers
61can be monetised
62provides an ongoing newsroom
63leads the news agenda
64helps to set key messages
65is cost-effective
66provides continious new content
67is measurable
68identifies potential risks
69reduces reputational risks
70improves quality of conversations with employees
71grabs attention
72provides an ethical contribution
73modifies behaviours
74announces growth
75spotlights success
76boosts staff morale
77helps you to launch something new
78covers government relations & public affairs
79is creative
80starts a new trend
81maintains goodwill
82enhances online presence
83analyses share of voice
84hijacks the news agenda or newsjacking
85makes digital work harder and further
86provides corporate governance
87will deliver organisational objectives
88drive audiences to your social channels
89can create memorable campaigns
90boosts demand
91obtains public support
92optimises social media channels
93tells customer stories
94keeps employees informed
95encourages social conversations
96breaks stigmas
97educates the public
98ensures consistent messaging
99is research-based
100builds CREDibility

Writing a PR brief that defines your needs

by Chartered Institute of Public Relations

Write it down

It is important that you have a clear, written statement of what objectives you are trying to achieve. You should follow this up with a written agreement about how they are able to be achieved. Without that clarity, you have no protection if the PR agency fails to deliver what you want.


Are you launching a new product? Crowdfunding half a million dollars? Launching an Initial Public Offering? Raising awareness of cycling hazards? Encouraging older people to have their flu jab?

Try to think in terms of what you want to achieve for your organisation, rather than what activities you want a PR consultant or agency to undertake for you. Ensure your brief identifies your business or other objectives. Avoid being prescriptive about what you want done and how you want it done – a good PR firm will be able to respond imaginatively to the brief and suggest ways of meeting it.

You will generally get the best value from PR by involving a trained professional at an early stage in planning and development, even if most of the PR activity does not take place until later in the project. If you leave the PR element until late in your plans, you may find that you are not starting off in the right place and are not giving your professional advisors the scope they need to deliver the best results for you.

Budgets and fees

Be as clear as you can about how much money you have to spend, and whether your budget is for professional fees only (with campaign costs additional) or whether it includes both fees and costs. Some clients agree a monthly retainer with their agency at an agreed average number of hours; work above this threshold is billed at an agreed rate. Other clients set a fixed fee for a project or campaign, and the agency delivers an agreed plan of work for that fee.

Fees vary widely across the sector. The best agency for you will depend on the nature and scope of the work you need done, the target publics, and the tactics involved.

Time constraints

You should include any time constraints in the brief you prepare. If you try to get more done in less time, you will get less value from your PR work even though you pay more for it. PR is generally more effective when it has plenty of time to make an impact and influence your stakeholders.

Extract from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations guide for Clients

Six actions you should take before engaging the media

The benefits of getting media coverage for your organisation or brand are far and wide – coverage can help change awareness, opinions and behavior.

By properly planning ahead you are more likely to build a positive relationship with journalists and generate quality coverage for your organisation now and in the future. With this in mind, we’ve created some simple guidance for you to make sure that you are prepared for press activities. This advice was developed together with a journalist based in Hong Kong on her needs and experiences.

1. Strong Press Release

A press release with a clear and catchy story angle makes it more likely that a journalist will pick up the story. It is important that press releases are short, sharp and to the point – 500 words should suffice, and they should be written in proper English (English media) or Traditional Chinese (for Chinese media), include any key facts, links to images, video and any other relevant collaterals or documents, and include a current media contact and/or PR agency contact (email and mobile number). (we will address press releases and pitching in another guide)

2. Facts and figures

It’s always worth having factsheets and numbers to supply to journalists. These should cover any important statistics and information, and include biographies of relevant people in your organisation especially spokespeople. We also like to prepare a boilerplate – this appears at the end of any of a company’s press releases and concisely describes the company or organisation in a few sentences.

3. High resolution, professional photos

More so now than ever before, press want pictures. Most stories are accompanied by images, if not in the story itself then for posting on social media, so providing a variety of images that are high resolution (for print publications) and professional (not stock images) is essential. Images should be engaging and relevant and should be easily accessible to press, ideally via links that don’t expire over time. Generally, we advise including such links within the press release so media can access them quickly and without need for further follow-up.

4. Access to interviewees/spokespeople

Clients should be prepared to carry out interviews with members of the media who may be keen to explore their products or services in greater detail. Chosen spokespeople should be well versed in the subject matter and available for interview either in person or over the phone soon after a journalist’s request, or prepared to provide comprehensive answers over email in good time to meet journalist deadlines.

5. Rapid response

When journalists choose to pick up a story their editor or publication will have a deadline, which can mean quick responses – either to interview requests or other queries – are required to ensure any stories go ahead. It’s important to be available following the launch of a product or service and to reply to journalists or your PR agency in a timely manner. As a PR agency, we try to get back to our journalist contacts within the same day, or at least by the following morning as we know that most requests come to us with a sense of urgency. News doesn’t wait! Additionally, if you are able to provide the information and quotes or interviews that a journalist requires comprehensively and quickly then it may encourage them to write about you again in the future or to call on you for quotes or opinion on other industry-related matters or topics. It’s always worth building relationships with our journalists.

6. Online presence

When launching a news-worthy product or service, it is important that you have an associated online presence, as journalists will likely turn to Google to further research anything mentioned in the press release. This usually means that any products or services should be live, available and ready to go along with the press release.

If you need any help in this area or have some differing/additional views to add, we would love to hear from you.

About Cred Communications

Cred Communications delivers PR campaigns for a variety of sectors. Our founder, Mandy Queen, has over 20 years’ experience in public relations and worked in-house for FMCG, public bodies and large trade fair organisers Messe Frankfurt and Global Sources in Hong Kong as well as created and promoted consumer events such as the award-winning UK-wide promotion Seafood Week before founding Cred Communications in Hong Kong in 2010.

Get in touch to find out how we might be able to work together:  

Tel: +852 2110 3519

Email: hello@credcommunications.com

If you enjoyed this article then check out our free eBook on running a low cost on-site press office during your event, festival or trade show. You can download it here.

New job available in Hong Kong – Account Manager

We are looking for an Account Manager with first class communications skills who would like to work in one of the world’s most dynamic cities – Hong Kong.

  • first class English writing skills is a must – we need someone that can produce compelling content for media, blogs, social media, video and speeches;
  • a global mindset so that they can pitch our clients’ stories to both local and global media such as Forbes, New York Times, The Guardian and Sydney Morning Herald;  
  • a focus on outcomes rather than outputs with regards to results across media and digital – KPIs are extremely important to us;
  • excellent interpersonal skills – the ability to work with clients and people from all types of sectors/countries;
  • strategic and creative abilities as while we always lead with strategy we also deliver creative concepts that spark conversations;
  • digital know-how – from Instagram Stories to Facebook Pixels;
  • public relations agency experience is essential as is a proactive attitude.

This is a great opportunity for someone who is looking for a challenge and would like to gain experience in Asia.    

Established in 2010, Cred Communications leads with strategy and delivers creative public relations campaigns for brands that aspire to influence. Services cover communications strategy, media relations, thought leadership, influencer engagement, social media marketing and crisis communications. We work with both consumer and corporate clients and have delivered proven results such as 500,000 app downloads, no1 ranking on TripAdvisor or driving top tier media attendance to events and exhibitions. Clients include Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, British Council, Economist Events, FIRST.Org, Emack & Bolio’s, Weave Co-Living and UBM Asia.

You can find out more about our culture here and our values here.

Interested applicants should contact hire@credcommunications.com with a cover letter, CV outlining the impact that you have delivered for your clients, two reference letters and examples of work, especially writing.  

Get off to the right start with Cred Cadets Internship & Graduate Programme

Interns are one of our greatest assets. Over the past eight years we have had the pleasure to work with some brilliant young talent from Hong Kong and overseas. This year we decided to create a much more structured public relations internship and graduate programme called Cred Cadets which we believe will be greatly beneficial to both students and to Cred Communications.

The Programme will provide potential interns with a mix of on-the-job training, job shadowing, individual and group training sessions and timely feedback over the course of their final year at university and grow into a full-time graduate programme during the following seven months. Launching this Autumn 2018 and starting January 2019, the 12-month programme begins with a 5-month part-time paid internship and ends, pending performance, with a full-time Account Executive role.

Established in 2010, Cred Communications delivers strategic public relations campaigns for brands that aspire to influence. We live for creativity and encourage unconventional thinking to ignite brand power and create meaningful impact. Services cover strategy, media relations, influencer engagement, digital and crisis communications.

Our culture is very much built on trust, collaboration and hard work so candidates that have a strong passion for communications, integrity and learning will excel during this new programme. We look forward to reviewing applicants soon.

If you’re interested in joining our 2019 Cred Cadets please email hire@credcommunications.com for more details. We are also always looking for interns throughout the year so please send your CV, examples of work and references to the same address. You can read about some of our interns experience here.

UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) partners with Cred Communications for Hong Kong and Macau-based PR and marketing initiatives

Hong Kong, August 2018Cred Communications today announced a new client, the UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), a statutory levy board funded by farmers and growers which plays a vital role in improving farm business efficiency across various sectors. Cred Communications will be focusing their efforts on increasing brand awareness of produce being imported from Britain, comprising premium pork, lamb and dairy as well as beef from native and rare British iconic cattle breeds.

Cred Communications will execute an integrated communications campaign that will cover in-store activities, foodservice initiatives, media relations and social media marketing for AHDB. The contract is for at least one year, with the potential to expand to three.

“Britain exports some of the world’s best beef, pork, lamb and dairy and we’re looking forward to working with chefs and retailers across Hong Kong and Macau on a number of strategic and creative promotions and events to highlight this”, said Mandy Queen, Founder of Cred Communications.

Chosen for their knowledge of the market and in-depth experience across foodservice and retail as well as FMCG, Cred Communications has delivered impactful work for a number of trade organisations and food and beverage clients, including the Scottish Government, the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, produce from Tasmania and New Zealand as well as Lindt & Sprüngli, honestbee and foodpanda. Current clients include Diversified Communications’ Seafood Expo Asia, the Economist Events and the British Council as well as Emack & Bolio’s and The Flying Winemaker.


About AHDB

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain and managed as an independent organisation (independent of both commercial industry and of Government).

Our purpose is to inspire our farmers, growers and industry to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

Our vision is for a world-class food and farming industry inspired by, and competing with the best.



Young Chef Challenge to Highlight Sustainable Seafood at Seafood Expo Asia in September

Chefs gathered at the Seafood Expo Asia press conference (From left: Gabriel Choy, Vicky Lau, Pedro Samper, and Gerhard Passrugger)


HONG KONG, 7 June 2018 – Diversified Communications’ Seafood Expo Asia will return to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on 4-6 September, 2018. Seafood Expo Asia is the region’s leading showcase of the world’s premium seafood products, equipment and services as well the preferred industry meeting place for buyers and suppliers to find the latest seafood trends. One of this year’s key events is the highly-anticipated live Young Chef Challenge, which takes place during the show and aims to nurture young talent and highlight sustainable seafood options.

Last year, Seafood Expo Asia attracted over 7,100 qualified seafood professionals with visitors coming from 69 countries and 234 exhibitors from 31 countries. “As well as providing the top marketplace for buyers from across the world to source fresh and frozen seafood, we are looking forward to offering visitors and exhibitors a wide range of activities to help grow their business,” says Group Vice President from Diversified Communications, Mrs. Liz Plizga. This year’s event will feature a Product Showcase and Tasty Kitchen to inspire buyers with sourcing ideas as well as getting a taste of what’s trending in the international seafood marketplace. A conference program with daily sessions, culinary demonstrations and masterclasses will focus on the latest market insights and emerging products making waves across the global seafood industry to enhance attendees’ experience.

According to the latest figures from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Hong Kong had the second highest per capita seafood consumption in Asia. “Knowledge about sustainable seafood choices is very important, especially to new chefs in the foodservice industry. Seafood Expo Asia’s Young Chef Challenge provides young chefs with an opportunity to show off their skills while learning about sustainable seafood options. Rounds of exciting live cook-off using specially selected seafood will be held throughout the event,” adds Mrs. Liz Plizga.

Executive Chef of Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Mr. Gerhard Passrugger, is one of the judges of the Young Chef Challenge and a food sustainability enthusiast: “Educating young chefs early about sustainable seafood is extremely important. I am proud to be a judge for the Young Chef Challenge as it both inspires chefs to choose sustainable options as well as rewards their culinary skills. The competition’s message is aligned with our goals which is to ensure that more than 50% of our seafood comes from sustainable seafood sources by end of 2018.”

Launched in 2017, the Young Chef Challenge is a unique event to recognize the next generation of culinary talent in Hong Kong. The competition encourages culinary mentorship and provides opportunity for aspiring culinary chefs to discover and further develop their skills. This year, celebrity chef, Mr. Gabriel Choy will be the ambassador and guest judge of the event, promoting this extraordinary cooking challenge. And the judging panel brings together top culinary experts including Mr. Gerhard Passrugger, Executive Chef from Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Mr. Pedro Samper, Executive Chef from The Langham Hong Kong, and Miss Vicky Lau, Chef and Owner of Tate Dining Room & Bar. They will choose the most outstanding contestant after three rounds of onsite cook-offs.

For more information or to register a free trade pass, please visit http://www.seafoodexpo.com/asia.



About Seafood Expo Asia
Seafood Expo Asia is a trade event where buyers and suppliers of seafood from around the world come together to network and conduct business in the lucrative Hong Kong and Asia Pacific markets. The event’s ninth edition takes place from the 4-6 September 2018 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wanchai, Hong Kong. SeafoodSource.com is the exposition’s official media covering industry news year-round. The exposition is produced by Diversified Communications and is co-located with Restaurant & Bar Hong Kong. http://www.seafoodexpo.com/asia.

About Diversified Communications
Diversified Communications is a leading international media company with a portfolio of face-to-face exhibitions and conferences, online communities and digital and print publications. As producers of these market-leading products Diversified Communications connects, educates and strengthens business communities in over 14 industries including: food and beverage, healthcare, natural and organic, business management and technology. The company’s global seafood portfolio of expositions and media includes Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America, Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global, Seafood Expo Asia and SeafoodSource.com. Diversified Communications, in partnership with SeaWeb, also produces SeaWeb Seafood Summit, the world’s premier seafood conference on sustainability. Established in 1949 and headquartered in Portland, Maine, USA with divisions and offices around the world, Diversified Communications remains a privately held, third generation, family-owned business. For more information, visit: http://www.divcom.com

Talking About a Revolution

Few things spell summer quite like enjoying a glass of excellent wine in the afternoon sun. This month, we’re very happy to be doing the PR for Eddie McDougall, the man behind The Flying Winemaker, one of Asia’s most dynamic wine brands. Award-winning winemaker, rosé and Asian wine expert, wine critic and TV personality Eddie believes in the power of wine as the “social glue”. With his cross-cultural upbringing in Hong Kong and Australia, Eddie has worked with many influential wineries and has gathered over a decade of winemaking experience. The brand is well known for their popular event Rosé Revolution, which is now in its 8th year and will take place in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Macau this summer.

We will be working closely with Eddie on publicising his event, along with promoting some exciting new developments for the brand.

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