Managing pen power

Managing pen power

BLOG · BY TTF CEO DAVID HOPKINS · 5 October

We encourage TTF members to review their product information following the release of the CCPI.

We’ve all heard the saying that the pen is mightier than the sword: words are most definitely powerful.  It’s how we use them that counts.

Marketing timber and wood products requires an ethical and truthful approach to the use of words, which we are actively promoting through our support for the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI).  Reputationally, the Code is something which all our members should engage with, wherever they sit in the supply chain, from forest to finished building. The Code itself has now received an enthusiastic welcome from across the construction sector.

TDUK has been asked by the assurance team behind the Code to submit a list of preferred and restricted marketing terms, to back up our continuing emphasis on the truthful representation of products and their end-use applications.  Whilst to a marginal few this may seem like an infringement of business liberties, we must remember that at the core of the Grenfell disaster were construction products, and their interaction with buildings and other construction product materials and systems.

Who knew what, and when, and how they used words, and how they handled or verified that information, is still the subject of legal inquiry.

On our list of terms were those which TDUK Trading Members should not be using, from WPB plywood, a term that should have been abandoned in 1998, to ‘green treated’ softwood, and much more.  We also gave information on what can and should not be said in relation to environmental claims on timber and wood products and certification systems.

We are simultaneously encouraging all our members to look at their product information and make completely sure, as the old advert used to say, it is ‘legal, decent honest and truthful’.  Words can be interpreted in many ways, as the Grenfell tragedy has appallingly proved.

As a sector we must all therefore check that our marketing materials meet the five ‘acid tests’ of the CCPI: that the words, terms, descriptions, imagery and implications of members companies’ communications are clear, accurate, unambiguous, accessible, and up-to-date.

American author Mark Twain once wrote that if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.  Telling the truth may be the easy part; ensuring that the ‘pen power’ of those writing our communications and training materials cannot in any way be misinterpreted by others anywhere in the construction and specification chain is something we must all strive to verify.

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