Crisis is a threat in nearly all industries, senior housing included. Elder care lawyers remind us daily of the perceived or real wrongdoing in senior care communities, and several cases of significant crisis in senior housing have been documented.

But how one responds to crisis – whether it be catastrophic and widespread, smoldering over time, or a viral bad review – can make or break a company’s reputation and financial outlook…pretty much all within the first 15 minutes.


Author of Lukaszewski on Crisis Communications, James E. Lukaszewski defines crisis as “the sudden and unexpected creation of victims, accompanied by unplanned visibility for an organization.”

Corporate crisis can be boiled down to two main types:

Sudden. Some crises are external and simply cannot be planned for. They are often beyond the control of the organization. Sudden crises include such events as natural phenomena, terrorist attacks or environmental disasters. While these crises have the potential to harm many people, they rarely affect reputation or elicit blame.

Smoldering. The most common kind, a smoldering crisis is one that has been brewing over time and is typically internal. Examples are mismanagement, whistleblowing, negligence, scandal, or other improprieties. They have the most likelihood of damaging the organization’s reputation.


Within each crisis category are four levels of impact in descending order of severity:

Level 1: Widespread impact. Level 1 crises can result in harm to humans and/or significant damage to infrastructure. They are the sudden crises mentioned above, such as natural/environmental disasters and acts of terror. This and level 2 crises (below) involve victims and their family members, who must be notified with the utmost care, sensitivity, and sheltering from secondary or tertiary sources of information. Family members should never learn of a crisis from the media.
Level 2: Localized but serious. Level 2 crises are contained within the organization, with victims and/or significant damages. Examples are an active shooter, health emergency, food contamination, fire, flood, vehicular crash involving staff or residents.
Level 3: Business disruption. Level 3 crises can be defined as operational events that impact business practices, staff, clients or residents in a negative way. Examples are financial, cyber, legal, personnel, regulatory, or security breaches.
Level 4: Adverse online presence. While not technically a crisis, bad or false reviews, poor rankings and listings can negatively affect a brand’s reputation. Such reports also have the power to infect perceptions long after the crisis has passed.


Before we go one step further, extinguish any thought of “it won’t happen to us.” That’s how many of us naturally respond to that which we think may never happen, but consider a crisis communications plan an insurance policy against corporate ruin. You wouldn’t go without health, life, home or car insurance, would you? Considering the perception of senior housing, the chances of a situation tarnishing your reputation are potentially greater than something threatening the things you’d be nuts not to insure.


That is the question indeed, because response is everything in crisis and poor response – or no response – has the potential to make a bad situation much worse. As noted, the first 15 minutes after crisis are critical for many reasons. Obviously, any victims or hazardous conditions need to be tended to by the appropriate authorities.

But there is much more to mitigating crisis than emergency attention to unfolding circumstances. In this day and age of viral and instantaneous communications, reasonable, responsible messaging has never been more important. Consider the media, victims, family members, staff, residents, board members, investors and other stakeholders who need and deserve to hear from you. And with over three billion people around the world on social media, “citizen journalists” will tell your story if you don’t.

Social media is a total game changer for crisis communications. Now everyone can weigh in on a situation online, whether they are properly informed or not. Especially in level 1 and 2 crises, misinformation, rumors and speculation can cause further harm to victims and other stakeholders. Careful, regular monitoring of social media by informed parties close to the situation is an absolute must in modern crisis communications.


Quite simply, a known, practiced and robust crisis communications plan can mean the difference between healthy recovery from crisis and irreversible damage to reputation, financial prospects and, ultimately, continued operation.


Like an onion, effective crisis communication has many layers. Because the reputational and financial stakes are so high during and in the aftermath of crisis, businesses and organizations literally can’t afford not to be equipped with training, resources and message guidance from specialists in crisis communications.

We at IVY Marketing Group are very excited to tell you about a new product we’re developing. ResponderHub™ is a HIPAA secure, icloud-based platform designed to help our clients in senior housing and services prepare for, prevent and respond to crisis. Our team of certified content marketing experts are now certified in crisis communications by the Public Relations Society of America and media-trained by the Institute For Crisis Management. Watch for more information about ResponderHub™ to come!






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.