The Beef With Trusted Herd (Part 4)

Anyone working full time in experiential marketing can tell you that getting booked is the easiest part.

It is having to keep track of all the things that you need in order to get paid on time and file taxes.

Live event work does not make this easy, with every agency having its own onboarding process and paperwork, payroll company, and payment turnaround time. Working in the industry full time is a constant financial balancing act that becomes more perilous when you include in traveling expenses (especially when not reimbursed by the client or agency). Many people that are attracted to the industry because of the high pay immediately leave because getting consistently booked AND paid can be extremely stressful. While a few agencies have apps and portals dedicated to streamlining the process for that particular agency, there is not an app currently geared towards being able to accurately keep track of payment cycles for multiple companies (the closest to this is PopBookings, where you get paid via the app and therefore are able to keep track of all the money made through agencies on that platform. There is not a way to import outside financial data into the app nor export the financial data from the app).

By May 2022, I was well into my second attempt to bring The Experiential GOAT to life in Los Angeles. While the approach was changing, the underlying principle did not: to create a resource for those working in the live events industry. I had been collecting a lot of data and information on various agencies and platforms, but could not figure out the most efficient way to utilize it. It might have been information that everyone wanted and needed, but the learning curve that would be necessary to understand it was steep. What's more is that while I may be fairly handy with a spreadsheet, I only have rudimentary coding skills so creating an app to address the gaps for live event workers was not an option I cared to explore.

So when Brian A. Fox, founder of Trusted Herd, posted about an application process that was much too long for the average person, I hopped in the comments in order to offer up those notes.

It should be noted that at no point in time have I ever been hired through the TH app. Every time I would apply to anything on the app, the agency would ALWAYS contact me off platform (if they contacted me at all). There were applications on the app that were way too time consuming for the amount of compensation that they were giving and some were just ruses to get you to sign up to their database off platform. TH wasn't a factor in me being able to stay consistently booked and while I had a profile on the website, I only used it to be able to search reviews on companies that I had not worked for yet.

I sent the email and video meeting was set. I was extremely excited but also very nervous. I spent the week leading up to the meeting putting all the information into a easy to read format, created a PowerPoint presentation about the issues with streamlining onboarding, and put everything on freshly created webpage on my website with a non-disclosure click-through agreement (since it was my personal data and information being shared).

Then the first red flag: pushing the meeting up a week after being the one to set the time. While that annoyed me from a punctuality standpoint, I was ready nonetheless. I agreed to go ahead with the meeting, but also tailored the information that I had placed behind my click-through NDA to focus on just one specific area.

The day of the meeting I was extremely nervous because this would be my first time pitching to a main live events platform. I setup everything and waited patiently for the call to start. And once it did, my computer decided to immediately start glitching. No big deal, I got multiple devices and simply switched over to my phone for the call.

And then the next red flag: he refused to click through the NDA. The NDA agreement that I used for the click-through is the standard NDA used in studio recording and is saved as a fillable PDF on my hard drive. As if to underline how rudimentary my HTML coding skills are, I had not noticed that when the PDF file was copied into the HTML, the boxes did not copy the information inside of it, but the code for the box itself. Hearing him say he refused to click through because of that mistake caused my heart to drop into my stomach, but I pressed on.

I decided to just stick to the PowerPoint presentation since the point could not be made without the data behind that NDA. But by the time I got to the end of the presentation, I knew that the entire video call had been a waste of time. This was not a call to see what everyone was saying in the industry. The purpose of the call was to see if I was working on a rival platform to be able to undercut it (part of that data set was the information about how TH had publicly denounced the AAEP mere days after posting about standing in solidarity with live event workers affected by the shelter in place orders). From the call, he was already sitting on all the resources needed to address this common concern but was not making any moves to actually address it. Since I was still working full time in live events at the time, I decided to just remove all access to the data page and continuing collecting the data on my own. I was disappointed in the meeting but also understood the importance of TH in the industry.

That's why I reached out the Fox again in February 2023 when I was creating the one stop resource for ALL things experiential marketing. With TH being the largest reputation site for those working in the industry, this was the logical step to leading those who were new to the industry to a trusted resource for employment.

However, it soon became clear that TH wanted nothing to do with The Experiential GOAT. I was deeply disappointed, but not overly surprised. TH seemed to be trying to be the main resource in the industry and I was seen as a potential rival. I was fine with leaving TH aloneā€¦.until they announced their subscription service for live event workers.

So what is the problem with TH launching a subscription service for live event workers?

Read the next installment of the series: The Beef With Trusted Herd (Part 5).

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