Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Finalist: People’s Choice — ‘Brainstrain’ Communication 2014

Earthquake Commission

Document name

Email about a simple repair job that hadn’t been sorted after 3 years (and 3 months)

Judges’ comment

The Earthquake Commission seems to be using purposefully vague language, which is awful in the context. The judges considered that while this was an email to one couple, it was reasonable to assume it was indicative of many others the organisation was sending.

Media statement

EQC making the finals of the ‘Brainstrain’ Awards is a useful reminder of how important it is to get it right when talking to our customers.

The good news is that, as part of our continuous improvement in this area, we stopped using this particular email early this year.

EQC Chief Executive Ian Simpson says the unprecedented nature of the Canterbury earthquakes, and the huge workload that emerged, created large challenges for the Commission and its staff in meeting public expectations.

‘As part of our work to fund the repair or replacement of around 169,000 homes, we have learned a number of lessons — better communication with customers being one, and we continue striving to achieve that,’ says Mr Simpson.

EQC is proud of how staff members — many of whom are rebuilding their own homes and lives in the Canterbury earthquake aftermath — continue to help people in Christchurch.

Margaret Agnew
Media Advisor