In part I of our series on crisis management, we explained what a crisis in business is – and what it is not.

In this second part, we will examine external crisis communications and how to effectively plan for and disseminate information about your company’s crisis to the media, customers, vendors, stockholders and other outside interested parties.

First, it is essential to have a plan in place before crisis occurs. Be proactive, not reactive. Recalling that a crisis is newsworthy (something unlawful, immoral, unhealthy or even deadly), it is a fatal error in judgment to assume that nothing dire will ever happen to your business and that preparing for crisis is unnecessary. Let’s also recall that a bad review is not a crisis.

Here are some tips to prepare for crisis and the external messages to be conveyed in its wake:

  • Brainstorm potential situations. In the senior housing industry, for example, what could happen that would merit crisis status? Think of anything and everything and write it down. Here’s when it’s wise to go to the worst-case scenario, to imagine all the things that you hope and pray will never happen. A fire, flood? Widespread food contamination? Reports or evidence of abusive/neglectful staff? Sexual harassment or assault? A major lawsuit? A shooting?
  • Prepare mid-crisis action. Once you have determined all the possible crisis situations that could occur, determine what actions will be taken to safeguard staff, residents, the community at large, if applicable, as the situation is unfolding. Which public officials or authorities will be contacted, if necessary; which staff will do what; what onsite protection plans will be activated (exit procedures, lockdowns, etc.).
  • Designate spokespeople. WHO speaks about your crisis is as important as WHAT is said. Specific people should be designated – and only them – to make statements or respond to questions. Whether they are CEOs (usually the most appropriate spokespeople), department heads, marketing or PR personnel…whoever is authorized to reach out or answer to the community should be media-trained (see below). No one who isn’t a media-trained, designated spokesperson should respond at all, nor should any messages be conveyed without spokesperson(s)’ and participating officials’ approval (police, federal agents, etc.).
  • Prepare appropriate messages. Case studies show how to – and not to – respond to disaster in business, but keep in mind that no response is a negative response, conveying indifference, irresponsibility, defensiveness, or worse. In part I of this series, we cited three questions that must be addressed following a crisis:

    1) What happened? 2) What caused it? 3) What are you doing to keep this from happening again?
    Answers to these key questions should be formulated ahead of time and come across as positive and reassuring as possible. But they must also be truthful. Transparency in communicating what happened is absolutely essential
    A boilerplate response prepared in advance is good practice, but also craft messages that are unique to individual scenarios. Decide which channels will be used to reach which audiences, and make sure people with media training are monitoring and responding to social media around the clock. The age of social media has thrown fuel on the rumor mill fire, and “fake news” proliferates like a contagion online. Design advance messages that deal with each stage of crisis: the immediate aftermath and post-event follow-up.A “dark website” should be implemented as soon as possible. This is a page on top of your regular home page containing the most updated information about the situation. Any inquiries should be referred to this page until spokespersons can get out to the public or other channels of information are established.The passage of time will determine when to re-engage and disengage with the issue, but each subsequent message should be as acutely responsive and well-constructed as the first. Stay connected with your customers, stockholders and vendors throughout the relevancy of the crisis, because they are key to your credibility and recovery.
  • Provide media training. HOW a message is conveyed is as vital as WHAT is said. Only individuals who have been educated on how to maintain control and composure, exude confidence and credibility should partake in interviews. This person(s) should also be proficient in redirecting (not obfuscating!) unproductive questioning back to pre-planned, and always truthful, key messages. While preparedness is critical, designated spokespeople should also be able to think quickly and clearly on their feet, should unexpected inquiries or commentary come their way.
  • Establish a liaison for police/investigative personnel. In addition to, and separate from, a designated spokesperson(s), a media-trained employee should be assigned as communications liaison to sit on a committee of police or whatever investigative personnel the crisis warrants. The liaison will ensure that nothing goes out to the media or public without said police/official’s permission and will then – and only then – relay sanctioned information.
  • Enlist the help of outside partners. Be they health professionals, law enforcement, emergency response personnel, educators, law practitioners (note: lawyers should not be designated spokespeople), or other relevant individuals, rely on the expertise of professionals that can team with you if crisis hits. Arrange this team ahead of time, so that mutual trust and lines of communication are already in place.
  • Rehearse. Schedule a “what if” day, seminar or retreat to rehearse responses to potential crisis. Conduct practice Q&As; if practical, run a drill on actions to take during various situations (without alarming residents or other non-staff people); role play interview scenarios. Get creative imagining the worst – but be prepared!

In the next and final blog in this series on crisis management, we will explore internal communications, or how to relay information to company employees and their families.

If crisis strikes, let our team of experts guide you to recovery with appropriate preparatory communications and trusted public relations finesse.


It’s addicting!  The fast-paced, ever changing world of public relations and marketing captures your interest and keeps you charged up to learn more everyday.  I love to find the best ways to tell our client’s stories and man, they have awesome stories!

It’s my job to discover our client’s goals and then match the best processes to achieve them, within their budgets, of course.  I get to explore traditional, digital and every manner of communication to determine which tactics, whether it is direct mail or TV advertising, a new website or PPC (to name just a few) will efficiently and effectively capture the attention of prospects. 

I also get to work with great people at IVY – they’re creative, fun, caring and super smart.  We’ve all been around the industry a while so there is not a novice among us.  Our clients are very cool too and totally passionate about the services they offer.  We’ve been working with most of them for years so we know they truly care about being innovative and responsible to the markets they service.  I have great admiration for all of them and look forward to every day. 

It’s true what “they” say, if you love what you do, you won’t work a day of your life!


IVY was established in 1990 with a basic premise to offer professional, ethical and highly creative marketing, advertising and public relations services. We have successfully maintained our core values and have been part of many amazing projects, client growth and changes in the world of marketing that continue to happen at lightening speed. Most of our clients serve older adults in some capacity so we keep abreast of the opportunities and challenges they face.   Each day, we keep it real and fun and consistently deliver positive results to our clients and their markets.


As a hybrid graphic and digital designer/web developer with over 17 years of experience, I am always on the lookout for innovative digital and print visual communications. IVY Marketing Group’s broad range of projects keeps my job challenging and rewarding, as each campaign is a new and exciting opportunity to effectively communicate our clients’ messages and help them achieve their goals. It’s my passion!

My body of work encompasses a diverse design style and wide base of clients, ranging from national associations, small businesses and big name brands like Hyatt and LiftMaster. I firmly believe that form follows function and highly value the communicative power of simplicity. 

Areas of professional expertise include Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Word Press, Responsive Design, CSS3, and HTML5. The industries I’ve served include senior living, health care, hospitality and finance.


All my life, I have loved writing. As a child, I could often be found in my room “writing a book.” While “novelist” is not (yet) on my resume, I am a storyteller. I believe that everyone and everything has a great story, and it is my joy to find that story and share it with the world.

After earning my bachelor’s degree in journalism and completing my master’s studies in the same field, I joined a small advertising agency with powerhouse clients in the hospitality industry, such as Hyatt, Hilton International and Carnival Cruise Lines. I began as a proofreader and achieved the position of senior copy writer within a year.

After my first son was born, followed by two more, I started a freelance writing business that included (among several others) such clients as Advocate Health Care and Coldwell-Banker Realty. Clients in the education arena included DeVry University’s Becker CPA and Stalla CFA Reviews, DePaul University, and Naperville School District 203, for which I won two state public relations awards.

For nine years, I was employed as Communications Director for a large faith community, where I managed all aspects of internal and external communications. I was writer, editor, designer, web master, and content manager.

As such, I am experienced and comfortable writing multimedia for a broad variety of industries, products and services.

I joined IVY Marketing Group in 2013, when I began writing client press releases on a freelance basis. I loved the work—and my teammates—so much, I was thrilled when I was invited to come on board in a greater capacity.

I have immensely enjoyed getting to know our valued clients in the senior housing industry, the people they serve, and telling the many wonderful stories that come out of content marketing done right—with the love and care our IVY teams puts into everything we do.


It all starts with one idea. Working with the Ivy creative team for over two decades has always meant taking one great idea and bringing it to life to help our clients meet their goals. We enjoy the challenges offered with every creative opportunity and try to make the design process itself enjoyable for our clients.


Making certain that the projects IVY produces are word- and picture-perfect is my specialty. But I also love implementing marketing campaigns and programs that bring our clients success. Details are my thing, so it is a pleasure to have worked with IVY twice now, first after college four years ago and, recently, for the past two years.

The IVY Group is a terrific team of creative, positive and talented professionals that I love working with and, judging from the length of stay of our clients, I think they love our team, too!


Rock-climbing, training for an 80-floor stair climb event, running a 5K…This is just a tiny peek into what people 20 and even 30 years older than I am, are doing on a fairly regular basis at some of the retirement communities that IVY represents.

I’m of the generation that still has reoccurring nightmares about what the next step looked like when my grandmother could no longer live by herself. The very best option at that time was living at a “facility” and  included eating rubbery chicken and playing an occasional game of BINGO. Period. That’s why my parent’s generation begged us not to ever put them into “one of those places.”

I am so proud that IVY’s clients are at the very forefront of an industry that creates opportunities, challenges, and most of all freedom for seniors, allowing them to explore hobbies, interests, passions…the next chapter of their very full lives.

I feel reassured for my own future. Even more, I feel honored to be able to share the impactful stories about this paradigm shift in the world of senior housing. What we hear and see at our clients’ communities is fascinating and inspiring!


Keeping up to date on new public relations strategies, online engagement tactics, and promotional tools is my passion.

With my hospitality background in marketing top Chicago restaurants and hotels, I was eager to bring fresh concepts and communication strategies to our clients and have really enjoyed learning various industries.

Our clients have such exciting and unique events and programs, which really makes it motivating for me to make the most of their content.  Results like increased sales leads, website visits and social media connections make everyday rewarding and interesting.


I oversee, plan and implement projects and processes at IVY.  Often,  I am the conduit between our writers and designers, with printers, and other vendors to fulfill the marketing needs for our clients. I also manage media buys and coordinate production of advertisements.

Working for a flexible and fluid company that is constantly growing, changing and evolving is fun and rewarding. There is always something new to learn.


My bio has a big blank in the beginning—Mom and Dad rescued me in Wisconsin, and no one really knows my origins. They were probably ruff. What matters though is where I am now, running IVY Marketing Group. There are humans here who think they’re in charge. In truth, they do actually have amazing experience in content marketing and public relations, but I’m super important and the center of attention. I mean, look at this face. Right? And I know I’m the top dog because honestly, I’m the only one allowed to sleep through staff meetings and eat things that people drop on the floor.

The fact is though that I truly love staying awake at staff meetings. Everyone talks and laughs and they’re always excited. That surprises me a little because it’s not like anyone has thrown a ball to play fetch or anything. But I guess what gets my pack of peoples’ tails wagging is their work and their clients. I don’t know what a website or a blog is, but I do know that my pack must be good at them because they’ve earned all sorts of awards for these and other things. My bed had to be moved because the framed certificates were taking up so much room. Despite the inconvenience, I’m proud of these awards!

I serve several important purposes at IVY. I always let Mom (and the world) know when the mailman is here. When people come into the office, just one (usually) quick non-invasive (usually) sniff, allows me to determine important characteristics…like if they had anything good for breakfast, own any pets (pet owners are the best!) or if they stepped in anything on the way in. (It’s sort of like me conducting a first job interview.) I generously share my tummy because I know people like to give it a good scratch. I always give kisses, whether one is feeling lonely or not. And I’m always happy to share someone’s meal, especially if they’re trying to lose weight. My pack describes me as being engaging, amusing, and entertaining. (When I hear a siren, I “sing” along and it makes them laugh.) NPR talks about the benefits of having a pet at the workplace. Studies show pets lower stress hormones and improve morale and productivity. I wholeheartedly agree that a dog in the workplace is the best thing since rawhide bones.

As for my pack of people at IVY…they are amazing and always make my tail wag!


I could not be more thrilled to work alongside the IVY team.

For over 25 years, I have been employed in top executive positions across the Chicago area and have consistently built profitable businesses, generated sales, and developed and launched new product lines.

Strategically positioning companies and commodities for growth is a strong suit I’m eager to bring to ResponderHub™, IVY’s new crisis communications solution. I’m also excited to help expand IVY’s reach in the senior marketing industry.

I believe people are more open than ever to thinking outside the box and looking at new ways to reach their customer base, while at the same time reducing their cost of sale. The senior industry is exploding, and IVY is perfectly positioned to respond to the need for innovative, quality content marketing services and effective crisis communications.


I love being able to use my skills to help improve other people’s lives, and with a growing elderly population, it’s important to create meaningful and user-friendly digital solutions to aid the senior living industry.I have a wide range of technology and design skills with a deep interest in Human-Computer Interaction– helping IVY provide outstanding web design and print design services. IVY has a long-proven track record of excellence, and I’m proud to be able to help carry on that tradition.