The Beef With Trusted Herd (Part 2)

Trusted Herd started under the premise that every worker was meant to have a voice in the experiential marketing industry. The founder, Brian A. Fox, started the concept in 2016 with a rollout in 2017. The company was attracting event workers by paying them $1 per review that they left on the site. The idea of creating a centralized database of experiential marketing agency reviews is not farfetched: scams were much more prevalent since the only way to find out which agencies were good or bad was by word of mouth. The experiential marketing industry is one that is typically overlooked and ignored, so most agencies did not have Google reviews at the time.

Using Facebook polls, he eventually updated the platform to include peer reviews where workers would be able to give each other reviews. Fox used the Trusted Herd public Facebook group to poll workers as they joined and would dedicate posts to new members.

I had learned about the group at an event from a mutual friend (I presume that is how my photo ended up on the banner of the website since that event is where I first heard about TH). I was somewhat slow with hopping on board due to forgetfulness and don't start really paying any attention to TH until 2019 when I was researching the industry in my first attempt at launching an educational experiential marketing class. By that point, TH was taking the very logical next step of job posting: agencies were already endorsing TH and encouraging reviews from workers after activations.

The industry as a whole was extremely responsive to Trusted Herd's core concept of industry transparency. Fox was hitting the ground running by going to different large activations around the country in order to spread the word about Trusted Herd. Rumblings of a weird, flu-like disease that had started towards the beginning of 2020 could be heard at events here and there. It is not until mid-March 2020 when states start issuing shelter in place orders that the events industry suddenly went into a complete panic. As the pandemic dragged into an explosive summer all during a very contentious election year, large entertainment gatherings were non-existent and the few that were popping up had everyone feeling somewhat uneasy.

Trusted Herd was in the extremely difficult position of trying to stay afloat without being able to deliver on absolutely anything. The company is not at fault for this by any stretch of the imagination and there was no way anyone in the events industry could have predicted 2020. Everyone was attempting to make to make necessary adjustments to stay alive, let alone save an industry that most people don't consider to be a “real” job in the first place. During this time, a group of event professionals attempted to come together and create the American Association of Event Professionals with the stated goal of helping to regulate pay rates and deficiencies. A number of agency owners came out in support of the endeavor, including many that were also supporters of TH.

 

Trusted Herd, however, took a very firm stance in the opposite direction. Fox came out quite publicly denouncing the group and its premise as being geared towards agencies/companies and not for the workers.

While Trusted Herd had not become the industry giant quite yet, this was enough to kill the endeavor without anyone giving it too much more thought….something that, in retrospect, should have been looked at much more closely. The exact same companies that were endorsing AAEP had ALSO endorsed Trusted Herd, so TH taking such a blatant and public stance effectively swayed worker's decisions. 

But TH had an open secret: in December 2019, the company had started partnering with Philip Victor Ongert, founder of BA of FB groups that specialized in event job posting.

The acquisition of the BA of FB's 240+ Facebook groups meant that TH suddenly had all the ingredients that it needed to be an effective experiential platform. This acquisition pre-dates the pandemic and as is evident in the post, the company trajectory at that  point was still on par with the original concept. But to publicly speak out against the American Association of Event Professionals was a business move, not an altruistic one. In April 2020, the pandemic was really just starting all around the world and no one was sure when events would be able to occur again or how it would change the industry. AAEP threaten to take much needed traffic from TH, despite wanting to actually just work in conjunction with the company, and that was a move that early in the pandemic may have been viewed as more harm than good.

Once states started opening back up, TH was standing at the forefront of the experiential marketing industry with all the tools agencies and workers would need.

But how does Trusted Herd beat out PopBookings to become the more popular industry standard?

Read the next installment of the series: The Beef With Trusted Herd (Part 3).

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