This Sunday is the live telecast of the 91st Academy Awards, otherwise known as The Oscars, the “Super Bowl” of celebrity worship. Millions of people around the world will be glued to their sets to see who wears what, who says what, and who wins the top prizes. (This year, we’ll also find out who will host, but that’s another story.)

Why do celebrities captivate us so? Psychologists say it’s because humans are social creatures, and it benefits us to pay attention to the dominant members of our society. If we know what’s going on with people of top status, we’re going to know better how to acclimate socially ourselves.

This is nothing new. The traditional white wedding dress comes from Queen Victoria, who wore a white dress for her marriage ceremony in 1840. Now it’s a rare bride who doesn’t wear some shade of white. Who knows? We may get our next fashion cue or hairstyle from our favorite actor this Sunday.

This is the power of influencer marketing, which is a whole different animal than traditional celebrity endorsement advertising.

But first, just the stats, ma’am. Influencer marketing is reported to be effective by 94 percent of marketers across a broad swath of industries. Second, “influence marketing” as a Google search key phrase is up over 400% in the past three years.

How is Influencer Marketing Different from Traditional Celebrity Endorsement?

  • We trust influencers more. Unlike movie stars or athletes who are told verbatim what to say by the brands that hire and pay them exorbitantly, influencers are those who would willingly vouch for a brand, whether they are paid to do so or not. (Note: most influencers are paid, but a product or service is already aligned with their beliefs and expertise, so the value for them is intrinsic and significantly more trustworthy.)
  • We’re already engaged. Most of us will focus more on one famous person when watching the Oscars than another. That’s because we’re already interested in them, we already follow them (often literally on social media), and they have some sway that comes from inside of us, not the “push” form of celebrity endorsement. In short, influencers tap into an existing community of already engaged audiences.
  • They’re not always super-famous. The big trend today is “micro-influencers,” according to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). This is someone less like Kim Kardashian (a macro-influencer) and more like “the girl next door” who’s carved out her own nook of authority and built an organic following.
  • They speak in their own words. Editorial freedom is paramount to influencers. They want to advocate for your brand in their own words and personal style of communication. They care about content authenticity, as do consumers, and their own voice is far more compelling than a canned script written in the board room.
  • They are more selective. Because their own reputation and following is on the line, influencers are more personally invested in the brands they endorse. Their sign of approval carries far more weight than a signed contract between a business and a high-powered celebrity – with both themselves and their audiences.
  • They empower us. In today’s world where everyone can weigh in on everything and, in the case of Twitter, even communicate directly with influential people, the command lies with consumers. Influencer marketing thrives on social media, where audience participation is the driving force. Long gone are the “Mad Men” days of suits in skyscrapers creating campaigns designed to sell and self-serve. Genuine, consumer-focused content rules the modern-day roost.
  • They are FTC-monitored. Influencer campaigns are required by the Federal Trade Commission to state up-front, before the first word or image, that content is sponsored.

How to Launch an Influencer Campaign

Regardless of your company’s size or budget, it’s likely that you can employ some degree of influencer marketing, particularly with the micro- and nano-influencers that are gaining steam on social media. Whomever you tap to support your brand, whether LeBron James or the mommy blogger in town with the great parenting advice, you can leverage these strategies to your customers’ benefit (and yours, too, but that must be secondary in today’s world of content marketing):

First, keep in mind these qualities of a potential influencer:

Demographic: Are the people following the influencer similar to your brand’s buyer persona?
Expertise: Does it make sense that the content of your campaign would come from this influencer?
Reach: Is the influencer on the same social media channels as your audiences?
Notoriety: Is the influencer universally well-liked, or is there something attached to him/her that would negatively impact their mass appeal?

Next, consider these tactics with influencers, which take time and careful cultivation:

  • Offer them a valuable experience. If you’re thinking free products, forget it. This is not the way to attract sought-after influencers, who seek to expand their base by gaining exposure with new audiences and other influencers. Build a relationship with them by making them aware of the value of your product or service and aligning with their genuine interest in it. Invite them to a well-attended event at which they might speak; interview them about a topic in their wheelhouse that is relevant to your brand and air it across your digital platforms. Ask them to be a guest blogger on your site.
  • Solicit their advice. Ask an influencer if they would be willing to act as an advisor or “resident guru” to your company. Stress the value of their savyy. Influencers are naturally inclined to share their ideas and knowhow, or they wouldn’t have a following in the first place.
  • Pay them for their own words. Wait, what? Didn’t we say that influencers are not the paid celebrities of mega-ad campaigns? Yes, we did. But here’s the twist: you can allow the influencer to create the content and compensate them for it. Whether it’s a product review, testimonial, or blog that supports your brand’s values and goals…whatever medium you and your influencer agree suits your mutual benefit, let them create it, and keep your red pen out of it. It’s their influence you’ve chosen (considering the influencer qualities noted above), so why would you dictate what and how it’s said?

Where to Find Influencers

PRSA advises that influencers can be found through Google search, hashtags, marketing networks, and subscription platforms.

But our team would add that you can also find influencers “hiding in plain sight.” Ask yourself who the ideal person to endorse your brand would be. Is it the vigilant and research-intelligent adult child of a senior in need of care? The administrator of a hospital specializing in cancer treatment? A millennial with a YouTube following of their self-assigned product tests? A writer with a hometown publication or a local TV anchor?

Whoever that “perfect person” is, go out and find them. Check their social media platforms. Do they have large followings with lots of commentary? Have they spoken before large audiences? Are they a respected authority in their niche? Are they at a nearby event that you can attend?

Guided by the tactics noted above, brainstorm whom to tap, and get on your way to building real relationships with your intended influencers. They may be just around the corner.







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.