NZ is about to experience an ‘earthquake, Shakeout NZ’ – are you ready?

Much to Cantabrians’ amusement, the rest of NZ is about to experience an ‘earthquake’ Shakeout NZ – at 9.26am on 26 September 2012 – are you prepared?

Sometimes, it seems like pushing water uphill with a rake, getting businesses and individuals to prepare for an emergency. Given we’re in the Shaky Isles, where tremors and shakes are the norm; we’re oddly complacent and prone to the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mentality.

How many companies can honestly say they have a crisis plan in place, and what’s more, have real-time exercises regularly?  That they have institutionalised crisis processes into their every-day business processes so that crisis response is second-nature?

Massey University did a study last year (http://bit.ly/MVxpDc) which showed that less than 10 percent of businesses have a crisis plan. Of these, less than half had practiced it. So, it seems most businesses are prepared to learn on the day. I call them ostriches.

Developing a crisis plan, and having crisis preparedness part of day-to-day business does take a time and resource investment.  It’s better than going out of business, or damaging reputation and therefore relationships and profits.

The Government wants  one million people to get involved in Shakeout NZ, and so far there’s more than 520,000 people nationally signed up for the ride. These range from individuals to small businesses to large entities such as Air New Zealand, with 60 companies registered in the Auckland region. Take a look at http://www.shakeout.govt.nz/

With just 60 businesses registered in Auckland, there’s obviously a whole lot more that aren’t at all focused on being ready for a crisis.

But it’s not just about earthquakes (or volcanoes, or tsunami and floods).  Organisations experience crises of all shapes and sizes and they can affect reputation.  Now, as PR practitioners, we know about crises and if we’re consultancies, we thrive on them – they’re billable hours.  And they happen despite all our efforts to prevent them. Ask Warner Bros – now there’s a tragedy no-one could have foreseen.

It’s not often, although not unknown, for us to experience this type of tragedy. On an individual organisational basis, crises do happen and how well they’re handled depends on the level of preparedness – a statement of the obvious, I know. But, if less than 10 percent of our businesses are prepared, then that means we’ve got a whole lot of ostriches that will find out to their detriment why crisis preparedness is critical for effective business.

Question is – is your business prepared to start scanning the horizon for potential risk?

By: Helen Slater, Strata Communications

– Join Helen at the ‘Crisis Action Session’ CPD course in Wellington on 31 August for a live crisis preparation experience. –

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