Winner of the Revise the “Office Plants” E-mail Contest

Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry in our Revise the “Office Plants” E-Mail Contest.

You bold people took one of the most tortured samples of workplace e-mail and reworked it into a direct, practical piece.  You fixed the oblique subject line Individual Office Plants and even smoothed out lumpy sentences such as During a recent Office of Environmental Safety courtesy walk through,
plants located in several individual offices are apparently not being
well cared for or properly maintained
. I am impressed!

But, a contest can only have one winner or, in this case, two. So, without further ado, I hereby announce the winners of our Revise the “Office Plants” E-Mail Contest.

  • First Place goes to David Kay for his excellent rewrite. David made the e-mail shorter, used lots of personal pronouns, and linked to an list of acceptable plants. He wrote in a friendly, plain language style, but his e-mail didn’t abandon the task of enforcing the rules. Great writing, David.
  • Second Place goes to Margaret Elwood for her rewrite. About her limerick, she says “I just had to get it out of my system.”

Please heed these official rants:

Take better care of your plants!

        You shouldn’t ought ‘ter

        Over water,

And we’re sick of those bugs, pests and ants.

Each winner will receive a copy of our Clear, Correct, Concise E-Mail workbook.

Many thanks to all who entered. If you read each contest entry, as I did, you’ll get a handy tutorial on how to do e-mail right:

  • Brinda Moody wrote no-nonsense instructions but kept the writing friendly.
  • Missy Curry engaged in a bit of word play and wrote clear instructions on plant care.
  • Colleen Blessing used bullets to keep her e-mail short and sweet but was still able to work in the word ambience.
  • Genie Smith demonstrated that she’s no pushover when she wrote: “If you do not or cannot move your sick, infested, or dead plants, we will.”
  • Claudia Cooper revised sentences deeply, looking for plain language substitutes for confusing or bureaucratic language.
  • Connie Raab cut every bit of fat. Her version = 74 words. The original e-mail = 267 words.
  • EInspiration gave it to plant owners straight: keep those plants healthy or they’re outta here.
  • Bonnie Wahiba used a direct tone and exactly three exclamation points to drive the point home.
  • Anonymous trimmed wordiness, cut verbiage, and trimmed some more.
  • Naomi Allen streamlined the original and made the message much clearer.

— Leslie O’Flahavan


Thanks for the good words -- I can't WAIT to read the book. But I do feel Margaret one-upped me. In the clear light of day, I'll try to distill it to Haiku. I'm looking forward to reading all of the rewrites.

Posted by: David Kay | March 2, 2010 at 11:59:12pm

Thanks, David and Leslie. For the record, I'm not particularly PROUD of my doggerel; I just said that I had to get it out of my system. Your Haiku will be more succinct and honorable, I'm sure. I suffer from Limerick's disease. I'm helpless; I'm down on my knees. These words in my brain Will drive me insane -- Just shoot me, won't somebody please?

Posted by: Margaret Elwood | March 5, 2010 at 10:46:04am

Sorry, Margaret. We're enjoying you too much to shoot you.

Posted by: Leslie O'Flahavan | March 10, 2010 at 08:20:49am

Margaret's entry is cute and all, but doesn't rewarding it send a message counter to the goals of your work? You're not really suggesting that as an acceptable office e-mail, right? I probably sound like a grouch, but I've worked in many offices where people choose the silly over the clear, which leads many office mates to hit the delete button rather than open up another e-mail that can't just say what it means. I'm surprised you would choose this entry.

Posted by: | March 10, 2010 at 05:32:20pm

For the record, I submitted this rhyme just for fun and certainly would never send a silly rhyme in a business setting. I was surprised and delighted at the response I got, but agree that David and the others did the hard and honorable work required to rewrite the email.

Posted by: Margaret Elwood | March 15, 2010 at 04:28:39pm

Congratulations to the winners. I will keep visiting this blog very often. Thanks.

Posted by: Luwasa Plantee | February 24, 2011 at 02:18:22am

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