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executive giving a presentation at a corporate event
Madison ShepherdJul 3, 2024 9:00:00 AM12 min read

Transforming Events with Strategic Communications

In this episode, we're excited to welcome Katie Moser, our Director of Marketing and Business Development, and Lisa Peterson, Founder of Moxified Consulting as they share their insights on the crucial role of communication in crafting successful events.

We’ll also dive into practical tips for going beyond basic email invites and discuss how leveraging effective communication strategies can enhance the attendee experience.

About the Expert: Lisa Peterson

Lisa Peterson is the Founder of Moxified Consulting, a company that helps executives and companies create an authentic communications strategy that fosters connection and gets business results. Lisa has more than two decades of experience in marketing and communications and has helped companies in life sciences, tech, and healthcare scale, connect and drive business results.


Katie Moser: Hello everybody. Welcome to the Gather Gurus Podcast. My name is Katie Moser. I'm the Director of Marketing and Business Development for GoGather. Very excited to have a special guest with us today, Lisa Peterson. 

Lisa is an expert in communications with a very robust background in working on corporate communications events and all of the awesome stuff that goes along with all of that. So we have a really great conversation today to speak a little bit about how you can incorporate that into your event plans, why communications are so important for events and businesses, and get some insights from her on how to take that and run with it within your own organization. So Lisa, thank you so much for being here.

Lisa Peterson: Of course, it's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Katie Moser: Love to start out with just a little bit of your background. Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what you've been doing lately. I know there's a lot of exciting stuff going on in your world, and kind of your expertise.

Lisa Peterson: I’m happy to. There has been a lot of exciting stuff lately in my world. So I just returned to being a business owner. I have my own company called Moxified Consulting, which is a lot of fun. It's, for me, a great opportunity to better balance the role of being an executive and a mom, which is not easy to do these days. And so at Moxified Consulting, we work with companies and leaders to help build their brand voice and connect with the audiences that matter most to them. 

Moxified is really built on what is more than a 20-year career in marketing and communications, and as part of that is events, because events are an incredible channel for reaching the audiences that you care about most, whether it's your internal audiences or your external audiences. Marketing communications plays a tremendous role, in my opinion, not only in bringing together an effective event but making sure that you're getting a return on that investment.

Katie Moser: Yeah, I love that. We talk about that so much in the world that we're in, you know, events are coming back so strongly, and it's so important for businesses to be able to define the importance of those events, how it's helping their business and all the different pieces that are tied into that. 

So I'd love to start kind of a little bit with how you've seen both the event landscape and the communications and marketing landscape shifting in the last few years, especially coming out of COVID. And, you know, there's been a lot of changes. So what have you seen and how is that? How are you working on that with your clients?

Lisa Peterson: Yeah, good question. I mean, obviously COVID threw everyone for a loop, you know, personally and professionally. And I think, you know, there was probably much chatter at the time around well, what will this mean for the long-term strategy of events? And, you know, Are trade shows dead, for example, right? Will we ever come together in large groups? And, you know, at the time, we all felt like the world was ending, but it didn't end. 

We are making our way back to being in person, and I think that people and companies value the opportunity to connect in person, but there's also maybe a higher level of scrutiny around the investments that companies are willing to make in these events, and that could be events like trade shows, for example, and being more thoughtful about which trade shows a company attends and which ones they don't, but also company sponsored events, whether they're bringing together employees or customers or prospects. I think it's always important to start with what it is that you want that event to accomplish, and how is that part of a broader strategy? 

Katie Moser: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we're seeing that as well. You know, so many companies are coming to us asking how to help them build out that first piece before they even get to the event, like, why are we even hosting this? What is the strategy behind it? And I think communications and marketing and the strategy that is built within those organizations, within those departments, within an organization, can really be transferred into that event side of things. I'd love to hear your thoughts about why communications are so important for events, and how can companies be mindful of that as they start to build their event plan?

Lisa Peterson: Sure, sure. You know, communications or marketing, you know, you might call it, you know, they're certainly cousins, right? The functions are cousins, Marketing and Communications often work. Hand in hand. And depending on your organization, you might have communications as part of marketing, or marketing as part of communications, or you know the event as part of you know, either of those functions as well. 

So I may use the two Marketing and Communications interchangeably, but when you're starting out planning for an event, it's really important to think about, like I said, What's the objective? You know? What are you trying to accomplish here? And in my experience, a really savvy communicator is a great partner to have in the room as those discussions are kicking off, right? 

In communications, we're thinking about the audience, what we need to communicate to the audience, what we want them to walk away knowing what we want them to do with the information. And then you know, your communications partner can help you think through once I have my objectives and I know what I'm looking to accomplish, and I figured out who this audience is and maybe why they care about coming to the event, then it's thinking about, what's the content and what's the experience I'm going to create at the event in order to, you know, get my target audience to do what I want them to do, right? 

I think that it's not that communications has a role to play necessarily in every step in the event planning and execution process. I really think companies can get more out of their events when they bring in that communications partner, or maybe it's a marketing person who can help them think through what is the real objective for this time that we're planning together, and what is it that we want to walk away knowing that we accomplished?

Katie Moser: Yeah, I agree with that. I mean, we see it so often that companies are just concerned first with, where are we going to do this? How do we get this move? It's the mechanics, exactly. And it's so hard to take a step back sometimes, when you're going, Okay, we need to have this event in six months. Okay, we got to get the venue, because that is, you know, the primary piece. 

But there's a need to step back and really talk about why we are even doing this. You can't have a location if you don't know your attendees are gonna show up. You know, you can't host the event somewhere, put together an agenda structure, if you're you don't have those basics put together. It's like building a marketing campaign, you know, absolutely, yeah. So I love that. I mean, it's, it's taking a step back and really looking at the bigger picture. And you know, reminding yourself that at the end of the day, when you have an event, it's about the attendees.

Lisa Peterson: I think you know, for everyone in that room to think about, what's the experience we're trying to create for these attendees is really important, because that not only will inform your communication strategy, which we'll, you know, hopefully get into in a little bit, but also the planning and logistics, because if you need to have people working in small groups, for example, and you only have one giant room, that might not actually be the right setting for your event, right?

So often companies are, you know, well, we got to set a date, we got to get a location, we need to start the contracts process. And I think for you know, savvy event planners, they're like, time out. What are we actually doing this event for? And that helps you then curate, you know, the right venue, and think about, how do we, you know, make this more of an experience that people are going to get more out of their investment?

Katie Moser: Yeah, absolutely. I could go on and on about the attendee experience, and how many different ways you could, like, break that up and change that, and if you don't have those conversations up front, I don't think you can have a very good conversation about attendee experience.

Lisa Peterson: I've seen where, you know, and I've been a part of this, unfortunately, where in an organization, we're not clear going into the event, what it is that we're going to accomplish, and who's going to be a part of it, and then you're trying to, almost, like, scramble and retrofit everything to accommodate this bigger vision that had you just taken the time to define that and get everyone on the same page at the beginning. Maybe it would be a lot easier in the long run. It'd probably save time and money in the process.

Katie Moser: Yeah, I think of it like putting together a new recipe, or like, if you don't actually read it beforehand, you're scrambling the whole time you're cooking.

Lisa Peterson: It's the worst.

Katie Moser: Yeah, exactly. My next question was going to be about the attendee experience. But how can you actually put the mechanics of communication into play? Play into play in your events to improve the attendee experience. Can you give some examples of how you've done that in the past?

Lisa Peterson: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think from that point, you're really starting to think about the content. You know who your audience is, you know what you want to accomplish. So the next step is thinking about that content that's going to give them.

I'm thinking about a sales meeting, for example, right? And we know, at a high level, the objective is to go out and sell, right, sell more, probably. But what's going to enable that sales representative to sell more? What do they need to know? Is it product training, or is it selling skills training? Is it time to network with colleagues in their geographic region?

So you have to think about the content and how you're going to deliver that content for the event participants. And that includes everything from thinking about not only the logistics of the space that you've procured but also who needs to be involved. Are there executives? Are they a talking head?

Are you doing panel discussions? Is there Q&A right? I think you have to really think through almost step by step, what is it going to take to bring this together. Because oftentimes, then you can start to figure out not just the content, but like, what's the way that the content needs to be prepared in order to be shared most effectively?

Katie Moser: I love the idea of building, like a visual roadmap, you know, like you would do with any sort of campaign, right? What are all the different, you know, bringing in the agenda, how are the different touch points coming into it, and being able to show that to like a leadership team and say, you know, this is all the areas where we need to bring this in, and then this is how we're going to execute it. Do you have any recommendations on, you know, when you are presenting this to a leadership team that has to approve all the different pieces that are going to the event, I know that can sometimes be a difficult process. Do you have any recommendations for how to present that content? You know, strategies for convincing people that this is necessary, right?

Lisa Peterson: I think it's never easy to do right? Because events, you know, if you're going to do them, well, chances are you're making a sizable investment, right? You know, most executives are concerned about the PnL (Profit and Loss) and how this fits in, right? 

So I think what can really help is creating, to the best of your ability, a mock-up of what attendees may see and experience, right? And thinking about all those different touch points and being able to present a visual, you know, this is how the room is going to be set up. Here are some examples of the branding that attendees are going to see. You know, here's some of the key messages that we envision getting across and trying to give them, it's a balance because they don't have as much mental bandwidth for a lot of detail, right? 

The logistics, I don't think, is where you need an executive to buy in. You need them to buy into the reason that you're having the event, and help them understand what it's going to accomplish, and what their role is going to be. And you know, setting some metrics as a baseline that you can come back to them and say, hey, you know, here were the five areas that we thought were important to measure. Here's how we did against our baseline or against past events, and really be able to demonstrate to them what the return on that investment is going to be.


Madison Shepherd

Madison Shepherd is a Marketing Specialist at GoGather. When she's not writing blogs or sending out social media posts, she enjoys hiking, traveling, or reading at one of the many beautiful beaches in San Diego.