Imagine the embers of a fire. They’re not a scorching blaze; they don’t make much noise. They can last for hours, placidly glowing along. Now imagine something catches one of those embers – maybe a gust of wind or a piece of cloth. What happens? Whoosh! Flames rage and, uncontained, threaten to burn the place down.

These embers are very like the warning signs of a smoldering business crisis. They’re likely to blow up if we don’t snuff them out.

Smoldering crises are fueled by such factors as impropriety, mismanagement, whistleblowing, negligence, scandal, and more. One real-life example of a smoldering crisis is when a faulty ignition switch caused engines in GM vehicles to turn off and prevented airbags from deploying. The defect resulted in four fatalities and the recall of nearly three million cars.

Sadly, the crisis and resulting blow to GM’s reputation and financial prospects could have been prevented. In 2001, eight years before GM filed for bankruptcy due to the crisis, the company detected the defect. Four years after that, GM rejected a proposal to fix it because it would take too long and cost too much.

Smoldering crises are typically internal to the organization and almost always the result of human behavior. Poor decision-making, bad or questionable actions, unclear communication, mixed messages, and a less than transparent office culture are all factors in the buildup of crisis. When they come to the public’s attention, smoldering crises can cause serious – sometimes irreparable – damage to an organization’s reputation, business operations, marketing efforts and financial viability.

Smoldering crises are also the most common kind; in fact, two-thirds of all business crises are this type. Unlike a natural disaster or terror attack for which a company could not reasonably be faulted, smoldering crises are largely avoidable. Therefore, they are subject to intense scrutiny and blame when they come to light.

We spoke earlier of warning signs of a smoldering crisis. Often, these signs are conditions of which employees are already aware but may be hesitant to mention to upper management. Here are some indications that your business may be the ideal breeding ground for crisis, provided by the Institute for Crisis Management (by whom the IVY team is certified in crisis communications and media training).

Fearful silence. Too often, management defaults to “shoot the messenger,” either overtly or inadvertently blaming those who bring potentially damaging issues to their attention. This creates a toxic culture of fear, rather than empowerment, among those who might otherwise be useful agents in preventing crisis.

Not my problem. It’s easy to defer and deflect responsibility, passing a problematic issue from desk to desk rather taking control of the situation once and for all.

Mixed messages. When a company creed doesn’t match its actions, messages throughout the organization become muddled and standards break down. For example, if “customers first” is the mantra but management doesn’t prioritize consumers’ needs or adequately address their pain points, the potential for crisis is great.

Groupthink. You’re in a staff meeting, and someone suggests an idea you think is a poor one – for valid reasons. But everyone else says it’s a good idea, either because they really believe it or they’re reluctant to disagree with the group mentality. Coined by a Yale researcher, that’s “Groupthink,” and it can create a culture of self-censorship and fear of ostracization. The unfortunate result is a squelching of concerns that could ultimately lead to crisis.

Scandal. Sexual harassment, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, mistreatment…it’s the stuff of drama, but it’s also very real in the business realm. The juicy gossip that fuels social media is a giant leap on the path to crisis.

Senior housing is an industry that is particularly vulnerable to crisis. In fact, 75 percent of all crises in senior living communities are smoldering. What’s more, out-of-court lawsuits average $750,000; 95 percent of all crises are the result of human error; 75 percent of the industry is infected with Malware; one in 10 elders suffers from abuse; and 3.5 million more workers will be needed to serve the Baby Boom generation. Yikes!

The good news is, proper preparation and training can stop a building crisis in its tracks, and even if crisis does occur, reasonable response to it on the part of company spokespeople and others can do a lot to contain reputational and financial damage.

IVY Marketing Group has developed the first crisis communications solution designed specifically for senior housing. Called ResponderHub™, this cloud-based, HIPAA-compliant tool helps those employed in senior living and services prepare for, prevent, and respond to crisis.

Find out how our team of experts, trained and certified by the Public Relations Society of America and the Institute for Crisis Management, can help you snuff out those smoldering embers – before they explode.

Visit us today at Ivy Marketing Group and ResponderHub or call us at 630-790-2531.

IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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