Tesco PLC Group CEO Philip Clarke delivered an inspiring speech at the FT Innovate event in London yesterday.
His theme was around innovation in the workplace and you can read the full transcript of his speech here.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Clarke posted this blog article about his experiences at the event.
The opening to the post begins: “This morning I spoke at the FT Innovate 2012 conference…..”
Clearly, by using the past tense, Mr Clarke has indicated that the blog was written after his speech.
It is portrayed as a reflection on the morning’s events.
The problem is, the blog was posted literally minutes after Mr Clarke completed his speech at the conference. Unless I am missing something it is nigh on impossible that he would have been able to write, edit and post such a blog in that timeframe.
So now there is some ambiguity. Now we’re thinking – well, was he trying to make it look like it was written afterwards? Did he actually write it at all? What does this say about his other blog posts?
I really don’t think Mr Clarke was being intentionally misleading with his opening line. He doesn’t actually refer to anything more from the event in the blog. All he does is talk further about some of the themes of innovation.
I think what happened is the wrong choice of opening wording. Clearly the article was written before the speech, with every intention that it would be posted shortly after the speech. (I also like to think that Mr Clarke writes his own blog posts, whether or not it is later edited and posted by the comms team on his behalf).
Simply changing the wording would have given the clarity needed to the post to explain this. Something like: “This morning I will be speaking at…” or “As you read this I will have just finished speaking at…”
Now, let’s go back 12 months to another example of an article that was written before an event had taken place and that was also misleading. On an entirely different level, we will all remember what happened when journalists from the Daily Mail mistakenly published the wrong verdict from the trial of Amanada Knox.
In this case, in trying to be the first to break the news, the Daily Mail made up most of the story, including details about the supposed ‘reaction’ of Knox to the result. This was completely unacceptable because of the creation of entirely fictitious elements and because the newspaper really did portray itself as reporting on the event after it had happened.
In this case, the article does undermine the rest of the news published by the Mail Online – it’s easy to believe that the newspaper would regular pre-write news stories with fabricated content.
As different as they are, what both the examples show is the need to tread carefully when we are writing in advance for the web.
It’s fine to prepare materials in advance, as long as it’s clear that this is the case and as long as information isn’t pre-empted or presumed.
What do you think? Should we ever write blog posts in advance? Is the post from Philip Clarke discredited because of the opening line? Does it make you think differently of his blog as a whole?