Earlier today, I spoke with Matt Britton the CEO of Fishful Thinking agency Mr. Youth about the #fishfulthinking commentary on the Internet. To his credit, he responded immediately to my outreach for more information.
He clearly stated, and I believe him, that the agency had no intent to misrepresent or deceive mom bloggers about the Fishful Thinking opportunity. He also admitted that the program could have been handled better.
We talked a bit about why.
Matt explained (as David Wescott hinted in his comment to my earlier post) that they felt they had to reach out to approximately 120 (not 200 but the number doesn’t really matter) bloggers to have a large enough pool to find 10 who met the criteria and could meet their requirements.
But what were the criteria? A clear statement about the filtering process would have made it much more clear that they were recruiting for general interest, not making a final selection. The email language was unclear if not misleading.
Matt said that the criteria for selection evolved as they interviewed candidates and submitted them for client approval. This, in my opinion, is a fatal design flaw in the program. When you do an influencer panel program like this, it is critical that the selection criteria be clear up front to everyone involved. In the outreach. For company, agency and potential participants. Floating selection criteria offer nothing but problems.
If you can’t take the time to delineate the criteria upfront? Don’t do the program. I don’t know what “it” is, but I’ll know “it” when I see “it” doesn’t cut it. Sorry.
As David pointed out in my comments to the earlier post, far better to get to know the bloggers first, and then issue well targeted invitations.This was not done (possible?) here. Perhaps because the team was trying to leverage the public symposium date and moved faster than true relationship development allows? I didn’t think to ask Matt that when we spoke.
This lack of clarity was compounded by not getting back to people in a reasonable timeframe. Matt said that things just took longer than they expected — to interview potential participants, to make the selection, to get client approval. Fair enough, but an email saying the process was taking longer than expected would have been a whole lot better than silence. And that doesn’t explain the scheduled calls that were flaked on more than one occasion by the PR team. Something broke internally at Mr. Youth and I really truly hope that it wasn’t because they didn’t value the mom blogger’s time.
Lastly, they finalized the 10 “faculty” members on Wednesday, but the announcement wasn’t to go out until today. I don’t even know if it actually did. The Twitstorm and ensuing blog posts sort of stole the thunder. BUT: if they had informed the moms better about the process, the Twitstorm probably wouldn’t have happened at all.
I understand that Mr. Youth is extending an invitation to some of the mom bloggers who blogged/tweeted about this to attend the symposium on Saturday, expenses paid. This is a nice gesture on their part. It makes me hopeful. I *like* Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. But I still think this campaign could have been designed and executed much better than it has been so far.
As always, I will be following up with the company and bloggers who attended the event. Stay tuned.