The difference a choice of word can make

This week I broke a news story related to the local election. Another local journalist had the story but he works for a print publication (newspaper) that comes out on Wednesday. We got the info on Monday morning and by the afternoon I had confirmed the first part, a name on the list of companies expressing interest in the water meter project. It was the same as a candidate for mayor. By late afternoon I had talked with the candidate and had him confirm it on the telephone.

I packaged that video with an intro and summation, uploaded it and posted it to the conversation thread I had begun, with the initial facts, on the Facebook page for the local election. I didn’t make an official post on my news site until wednesday when the paper came out.

Wednesday turned into a mess for my print colleague … all because they used the word ‘Bid’ when hey should have used EOI or Expression Of Interest. Apparently they are not the same at all … and the candidate was so angry he called his way up the food chain at the newspaper. Publisher and the CEO of the parent corporation. Now the paper is putting out a special, out of cycle, Friday edition. An abbreviated, almost all candidate / election content and a great big apology.

Given that they have a day to whip it together, get it to press, another to get it printed and back to town … I suspect the ad revenue will be next to nothing. And their long time display ad sales rep just parted ways with them to run in this same election. Which means it will cost likely thousands.

I worry for my print colleague’s job a bit. He might be worrying a bit more.

When I found out about this mistake I went back and checked my video. I used EOI consistently until the summary piece where I slipped and used bid. So I re-edited the video and just after the spot where I uttered ‘bid’ I paused it. While it was paused I run a big scrolling explanation of the controversy and the difference. Then I resume the video. That’s the only change. Oh, I kept the original and both have YouTube annotations explaining things and linking to the other OR the edit. And I added a section to my news site posting that explained this and shows both as well as an explanation of the difference.

What’s the difference? An Expression Of Interest is the first step where a company that might want to get a contract for a job will find out what is required and prepare the EOI application where they show what their capabilities are. The city then decides which of the EOI applicants meet the criteria acceptably enough to be shortlisted. These shortlisted firms are the ones who can then bid on the contract. At that point they will be explaining what will we done for what cost and how it will be done. Possible also what local labour and subcontracting might be done.

Why would someone file and EOI if they were not going to proceed with a Bid? Well in this case the candidate says he didn’t know the negative things about it when he filed the EOI. And before he was notified he had not made it onto the shortlist he was actively campaigning against the $1.3 Million program he had EOI’d. And because he was not shortlisted his company did not get to bid.

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