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National Plain English Conference Essay

Dear Fellow Employees,

After attending the National Plain English Conference in Washington, D.C. it came to my attention that some of the information obtained with regards to J.C. Penny’s could be highly useful within our own corporation.  There is no doubt that after reviewing J.C. Penny’s consumer information guide that J.C. Penny’s has had tremendous and great success.  The technique of using simpler and more easily read English by J.C. Penny’s has allowed them to reach markets with customers and internet consumers.  The main focus that J.C. Penny’s has had is to identify and answer questions by consumers utilizing some of the following techniques:

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·         A step-by-step approach that allows employees the benefit and assumption that consumers are not use to making decisions systematically and that they need guidance and attention.

·         Organizing information to make it easy to find by using illustrations, charts, and paragraphs.

·         Writing for a target audience of an 8th or 9th grade educational level.

·         They realized that booklets can be an effective form of communication.

·         The booklets can be printed and distributed inexpensively and have shown a great response.

The greater question is what they use and put into their booklets that allows them such a high success rate.  In order to generate and keep the interest of the public the following questions are asked in order to ensure the accuracy and usefulness and importance to the consumer:

·         Are the steps of the decision making process clear and concise throughout the booklet?

·         Are they logically organized?

·         Do the pages entice and invite the reader by using clear headlines, short paragraphs, charts, and meaningful illustrations?

·         Is the plain English being used showing efforts and progress with the customers?

I then questioned why they chose booklets.  Other options such as banners and signs that are posted in “proper” areas could be construed as having the same effectiveness.  So, why choose booklets?

·         Consumers are familiar with booklets and pamphlets and will readily accept them.

·         Booklets are relatively inexpensive to develop and distribute.

·         Booklets can easily adapt to a wide array of topics and merchandise.

·         They can be added in a variety of ways to retail settings and catalogs.

The booklets (guides) seem to have high emphasis on the step-by-step approach.  This approach appears to pay off in the long run for the following reasons:

·         Consumer groups and educators purchase and use the guides in their programs, giving credence to the guide’s objectivity.

·         There has been overwhelmingly positive input from focus group sessions and consumer comments.

In conclusion, I wish you all the best of luck in utilizing the information and techniques from J.C. Penny’s use of simple English.  Please remember your use of it does not have to be in the context of a booklet but can be used in any and all daily business documents and correspondence.

Best Wishes,

Anjanee S. Balkissoon

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