MediaPost Invites Then Un-Invites 'VIPs' to Conference


We were going to leave this one alone because mistakes do occur. We even left alone a previous mistake involving the placement of an image which looked like it belonged to editorial rather than the unmarked ad it turned out to be. But, two mistakes in a short period of time just can't be left alone. While we love the folks over at MediaPost but today, they made a very huge mistake.

Late this afternoon, we received this email from MediaPost inviting us to their Email Insider Summit May 21-24 in Scottsdale, Arizona as a VIP. All expenses, including airfare, accommodations and conference registration, would be covered. We thought, "Damn, Adrants has finally arrived!" We were all excited to spend four days at the Boulder Resort and Golden Door Spa basking in the Southwest sunlight while hanging with industry big wigs. That is, until a second email arrived.

Our excitement was to be short lived as three short hours following receipt of the first email, we received this second email from MediaPost telling us the previous email was sent in error, we were not, in fact, a VIP and would have to pay the registration fee of $2,495 along with accommodations and airfare if we chose to attend. Ouch! I mean really ouch! And to boot, it wasn't just us that received the erroneous email. Apparently many in the press and on agency side received the VIP invite as well.

Grey Direct Interactive Planning Director Wade Edwards received the email as well and wrote to us saying, "How is that for a slap in the face - stating that I am in fact not important enough to be includied in their group...not to mention the questions marks that are raised by the fact that the conference is supposed to be a gathering of the best minds of the email marketing industry - yet they can't even send out the right email?" Indeed.

Accidents do happen. Hell, we can't even spell around here but might we suggest the tone of the second email could have been a bit more conciliatory than, "Again we apologize for the confusion and inconvenience that error may have caused you." I was getting ready to pack, people! How dare you pull this bait and switch on me! I'm a VIP, dammit!

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (13)     File: Bad, Industry Events     Apr-11-06  
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Isn't e-mail a legally binding agreement? Those bastards should make good on their error.

Hell, the pain and suffering you experienced would be well enough reason to takethem to court.

I feel for you Steve, I really do.

Posted by: mark on April 11, 2006 07:02 AM

I received both emails too. Even better was the third email I received from MediaPost, their daily Email Insider column. It was devoted to email mistakes. Just too good. The article is still posted if you want to read it.

Posted by: Greg Flewelling on April 11, 2006 08:41 AM

Yup, I would really feel like a VIP, if I got an invitation by freakin' EMAIL!!!

Posted by: snake on April 11, 2006 09:42 AM

Mistakes happen. But I guess it's how you deal with them that really counts.

'er what if this was a publicity stunt designed to draw attention to some obscure e-mail conference that no one would have heard about or attended in the first place ;)

Posted by: Joseph Jaffe on April 11, 2006 10:12 AM

I was wondering how many others (besides myself) received the erroneous VIP email. Apparently, everyone on their list. Which means if they were to honor the VIP offer no one would pay for the conference. All would attend gratis. Given that they sent the VIP offer to members of the press, you'd think it might be worth it to cover their asses and honor the original offer, no matter the cost. For who can calculate the cost of making an error this large, and having it written up on Adrants and God knows where else?

Posted by: David Burn on April 11, 2006 02:36 PM

Where's your, "Don't you know who I am?!"

Posted by: Stevie the K on April 11, 2006 03:14 PM

Adholes got invited and uninvited too. I was going to skewer them too but it looks like they got enough bad press for one day and you handled it as delecately as can be. My girlfriend, who doesn't even remotely work in email marketing (the most she does is email people...) got invited, which I thought odd, but was thinking "wow, this sponsor must have a lot of money to burn." I was even going to be nice and say "you guys can save on the hotel room since we'll share." Oh well, I guess my vacation to Scottsdale is cancelled. :O) It would have been nice to meet you all.

Posted by: Marc Lefton on April 11, 2006 04:12 PM

I have to admit, I was feeling really important for a few hours and almost got around to checking my schedule to see if I had that slot open. In truth I wasn't sure why I was being tagged being that I don't deal with email much.

Hell, an all expense trip to Newark might seem attractive after a long winter...

Posted by: Rob Graham on April 11, 2006 05:06 PM

Well dang, I'm just feeling so left out - I didn't even get invited erroneously.

Posted by: David Berkowitz on April 12, 2006 07:40 AM

You really are a loser if you didn't get invited erroneously!

Don't worry...I never got invited either

Posted by: Joseph Jaffe on April 12, 2006 09:13 AM

Here is the Article regarding how to handle errors that was posted earlier in the day... Enjoy.

E-mail's 'Best of the Worst'
by David Baker, Monday, April 10, 2006

WHEN YOU WORK IN AN interactive organization, it is pretty easy to lose sight of one key difference between e-mail and other online marketing channels. When you build Web sites and media creative, you can mitigate campaign risk with quick responses. Launch a Web site that contains errors, and usually a quick change will solve it. Same goes for online media, where normally there are ample review cycles before the media is trafficked.

However, there is a "point of no return" with the e-mail channel. Here are a few examples that take the proverbial cake.

In billiards, when you cue the ball wrong, someone usually cracks, "Chalk is free." Well, so is spell-checking, but I guess Circuit City--or shall I say, ""--didn't think about that. Spell checking is available in Photoshop.

Testing, testing, one, two. Have to give this one to Ad Age for proving the value of testing by sending the same e-mail with two different subject lines to the same person. I'd sure like to see the results of that test. Which one do you think won? The first one or the one received 19 minutes later?

Subject Line 1: "See the Mash-Up (and, yes, they forgot to close the quotation)
Subject Line 2: "See the 'Mash-Up" TV Spots Killed by Dr. Pepper

United Airlines has a new and interesting way of showing loyalty by extending multilingual communications to its U.S. audiences. After receiving a Japanese version of its monthly newsletter, I'm sure United had its most loyal travelers scratching their heads. Can any of you translate this one for me? It was also interesting how they addressed me in the salutation. My experience tells me someone new was playing with their e-mail system, as they addressed me as "Baker David C." And Alpha Bravo Charlie to you, too!

Mistakes are a fact of life in this channel, and there is no recourse once the e-mail has left your servers. You can potentially change the source images if they contain the error (Circuit City could have done that), but 95 percent of the time you are dead in the water when an error occurs.

So how should you react when it happens? Here are a few recommendations:

Assign a disaster team, sort of like FEMA. The team should convene immediately to discuss the error and outline potential courses of action. One member of the team will communicate internally about the expected fallout (opt-outs, complaints, replies). Don't wait until your vice president, who is seeded on the list, sends a note down the chain. Have your answers ready.

Minimize impact. If you see that there is an error and all the e-mails have NOT been sent, many ESPs have the ability to cancel the e-mails in the queue, thus minimizing the extent of the error.

Don't change protocol. 99 percent of the errors we see are due to teams sacrificing good process for urgency. Was it a system error? A human error? Did you sacrifice what you know is right to get it out quickly?

An error doesn't always justify a response. Spare your customers from a slew of meaningless apology e-mails. If you misspell something in an e-mail or subject line, do you really need to send an apology to those that didn't even open it? What if you sent the e-mail twice, or sent it in the wrong language? Discuss what constitutes an apology and who should receive it, and if you should reward the consumer.

Lastly, develop a protocol for apology e-mails. Use them for marketing and loyalty purposes. You'll get a higher response, so use this as an opportunity to let them know how important they are to your business. And, be sure not to waste that opportunity on a poorly thought-out apology.

David Baker is vice president of e-mail marketing and analytical solutions at

Email Insider for Monday, April 10, 2006:

Posted by: Davey on April 12, 2006 09:35 AM

Apparently they looked at my favorites list and sent everyone on it an email like yours. Hmmm Seems to me that for a conference on email marketing and best practices, they have a lot to learn!

It's OK though - You're still a VIP in my books.



Posted by: Paul on April 12, 2006 04:36 PM

I am sorry for my previous post. It was meant to be commentary for another blog that I was reading. Please send a blank check payable to cash if you would like to continue reading my comments.

Kind regards and sorry again about the mix-up,


Posted by: Paul on April 12, 2006 04:39 PM

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