One thing that all PR and communications practitioners should have a go at - before it happens - is handling a crisis. A plan is all well and good, but until disaster actually strikes, you have no idea how you, as a person, will respond to the demands that crisis communication brings.
I was delighted to see that PRINZ is staging a crisis communications exercise on November 9 in Auckland. The simulation will put participants through the mill and they can see how they will cope as the 'crisis' unfolds and gain some direct experience as to the things we all need to learn in order to successfully tackle such situations.
It's all well and good thinking 'oh, I'll be fine' - but believe me until you are in a 'live' situation, the pressure, reaction speeds, decision making and leadership skills required in a crisis communications setting cannot be adequately imagined. Although a simulation isn't the absolute 'real thing', it is an incredibly valuable experience. Every practitioner will handle at least one crisis in their career, so it is worth making sure you are equipped to deal with the one you're likely to get.
There have been several major events around the world this year - some man made, some sparked by nature. The common denominator among all of them is the need for fast, expert and appropriate leadership and communication. I'd would recommend that if you are in Auckland, have never experienced a crisis, or it's been a while since the last one you handled, then November's simulation should be a firm date in your diary.
If there was such a thing as compulsory training in public relations and communications management, then this would be the one session I believe everyone should take, no matter how junior or senior they might be.