Elyse Stoner Brings a Fresh Perspective to Event Planning

Elyse Stoner has spent her career planning events. She got her start straight out of college, managing halftime activities at college sporting events. From there, she moved on to arena management, trying to fill 20,000 seat venues by promoting concerts and family shows. Elyse then took a step into big-time college sports with roles at an NCAA Division 1 university, and an athletic conference where she helped plan a ten-team basketball tournament. Today, Elyse uses all that experience at her consulting firm Fresh Perspective, where she helps clients rethink their events with an eye towards strategy.  

In this episode of the PR Talk podcast, Elyse joins host Amy Rosenberg for a conversation about her event philosophy and why ROI may be the wrong framework to measure an event’s success.  

Start with the Why

As Elyse sees it, most planners don’t treat events as the strong marketing and publicity tools that they could be. To take full advantage of that latent potential, Elyse encourages her clients to take a step back from the planning and think about the why for their event first. When you start there, suddenly, the why impacts your planning, logistics, communication, production and follow-up activities.

As Elyse notes, her work can be complicated by teams that are reluctant to seek help because they believe they have it all handled, or they’re afraid of showing weakness. As she puts it,

“you can only help people who want to be helped.” 

But for those clients that do want help, Elyse can work wonders. She believes that by understanding your target audience and your brand, and by taking the time to think about what you want your event to do, you can develop a roadmap for success. 


Measure Your ROM rather than Your ROI

Elyse often hears from clients who are having trouble defining an event’s ROI to senior leadership. While there are ways to crunch hard and soft data for events, Elyse argues that this is the wrong framework to use for measuring success.

In Elyse’s mind, an event is an opportunity to have a moment with someone who matters to your business. You can use that moment to make an impression, to educate, or to show your appreciation. No matter your why, Elyse recommends measuring success based on a ROM, or Return on Your Moment. Once you’ve defined your event’s purpose, set goals based on your desired moment outcomes. Then, do everything you can to increase return on that moment. 

Elyse helps walk her clients through this process by defining an event’s purpose, working on messaging and setting metrics for success that support business outcomes. Eventually, she says, you can demonstrate hard ROIs like shortened sales cycles, but it requires an adjusted perspective to put the necessary pieces in place.


Event Mistakes Every PR Pro Should Avoid

Toward the end of the interview, Amy asked Elyse for her top event tips for PR professionals and marketers. Elyse responded by turning the question around a bit by providing three mistakes too many PR and marketing pros make when planning and executing events.

    1. Not Defining Your Event’s Purpose: Elyse meets people every day who say, “I do an event because I have to do an event.” There’s no strategy here, only obligation. Instead, begin by identifying why you’re doing an event and defining what type of event it will be. Then, you can craft goals and messaging in support of your event’s specific needs.


    1. Not Developing Goals for Your Event: Elyse recommends you think outside the box to develop your event goals. For example, how many media members attended, or how many media members from different categories attended? Once you’ve established solid goals, your planning activities can work towards achieving them.


    1. Not Doing Follow-Up: Elyse mentioned the age-old adage that it takes seven impressions for your message to resonate with a consumer. As Elyse points out, follow-up messaging presents a fantastic opportunity to reiterate your message with a group of fired-up people who just participated in your brand moment. Follow-up activities can also serve as a way to generate data to make reliable decisions moving forward. Don’t obsess about getting something out within 24 hours of your event, either. Instead, focus on sending out quality content that achieves a strategic goal.



Elyse Has More to Say

Listen to the entire episode to hear more from Elyse, including how she deals with our “horrible” RSVP habits in Portland and why religious revivals are more complicated to plan for than rock concerts. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the PR Talk Podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and Spotify, so you’ll never miss out on the professional wisdom of PR luminaries like Elyse Stoner.

About the guest: Elyse Stoner

Elyse Stoner founded Fresh Perspective Consulting to help clients hone their strategic event and overall marketing games without adding additional FTE to their teams. With over 30 years of hands-on marketing, event and brand management experience, combined with her outgoing personality and can-do attitude, Elyse’s projects have drawn millions of people to countless sporting events, concerts, educational programs, fundraisers and business conferences. 

Connect and follow Elyse on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Josh Friesen
I'm a writer and content marketer at Veracity, telling client stories one post at a time.