The very first web page went live 30 years ago. It was dedicated to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web project. While it was bland and uninviting, in retrospect, we know that this first URL opened the door to today’s websites, which virtually open the door to the whole wide world.
With nearly two billion websites in existence, the competition to attract the attention of the 4.72 billion web users across the globe is staggering. Unless you’re Craigslist or Wikipedia, whose unattractive physical look is so embedded in public awareness it would be foolish to change design, a modern website needs some curb appeal – and a whole lot more.
Four years ago, we blogged about the all-important home page. A killer home page is still paramount, but let’s take a fresh look at the multiple characteristics of a truly outstanding website – one that visitors will remember and return to time and again, one that builds trust in your brand and leads visitors to take action.
For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on the senior living industry. Indeed, most of the features that make a great senior community site apply to all websites, but the onus on the senior space to provide an exceptional online experience is particularly great. As literal doors have been closed to visitors, virtual doors must do the lion’s share of the work attracting prospects.
Ten Things That Make Your Website Outshine the Rest
Virtual tours. Because COVID has severely restricted (if not completely prohibited) in-person tours of senior communities, virtual tours of indoor and outdoor spaces, common areas, amenities, and individual apartments are absolutely essential. Engaging online tours are more than still photographs; they are interactive, three-dimensional, and offer a 360-degree perspective – as close to the real thing as if one were walking through your property.
Navigability. Getting lost in an illogical, disorganized website is like driving in a strange city and not knowing your way around – with one major difference: you can immediately click out of a website, never to return again. A move to senior living is one of life’s major decisions and, unfortunately, one that is sometimes made during crisis. The first point of entry should be an easy, orderly glide through your community. Studies have shown that the eye tracks text in a certain pattern, and visual hierarchy in the arrangement of your site’s elements points to what is most important and how to seamlessly find subsequent content. Main and sub-tabs designed with first-time visitors in mind guide prospects through a well-organized, stress-free visit.
Clean, simple design. An unfussy, uncluttered design throughout your entire site, but especially on the home page, makes for a pleasant, positive user experience. Simplicity in design is fresh, timeless and soothing. There’s also great business benefit in a simple design, as several studies have shown that minimalism garners more conversions by establishing legitimacy and confidence in a brand. Endless clicking and scrolling is distracting and comes off as amateurish and “salesy.” On that note, if at all possible, avoid sponsored ads on your site.
Uniform branding. Along with a clean design goes visual uniformity across your entire site, including color schemes, typography, logo, and other graphic elements unique to your brand. “Cookie cutter” designs are a dime a dozen and will do nothing to distinguish you from the nearly 30,000 other senior communities in the U.S.
Animation and interactivity. Today’s Internet users are seeking an “experience,” particularly now when in-person visits and events at your senior community are limited. Animated and user-driven interactive elements bring life to your site and create memorable journeys throughout your pages and in your visitors’ minds. These elements also increase engagement with your community and more clicks to discover what’s around the next corner, so to speak.
Readability. Small type and hard-to-read fonts are a no for any website, especially those serving older adults whose eyesight may be compromised. A simple, legible font scheme (consistent across your entire site) will serve your visitors’ needs and keep them engaged. It will also lend a more professional, sophisticated appearance, establishing trust and credibility in your brand.
Great Content. You can use the most awesome typestyle and graphics in the world, but without great content on your site, it may as well be gobbledegook. At its core, the “king” – content – is information that benefits your audiences on its own merit – a takeaway, so to speak, that is meaningful regardless of a lead. Great content creates a positive connection between you and your visitors, the ripple effects of which can be boundless.
Response Time. Sites that load slowly will be abandoned quickly. Optimal load speed is under three seconds; 40 percent of consumers will reportedly abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Response time is a function of underlying infrastructure (e.g., a good content delivery network) and design element choices, among other things, and it is essential not only to keeping visitors on your site, but good SEO.
Mobile friendly. A whopping 90 percent of Internet users across the globe access the web from their mobile devices. Websites that adapt to whatever device one is using allow for significantly greater reach and more shareability among visitors. In essence, you can’t survive without a mobile friendly website.
Expert designers. Achieving all of the above is a tall, but very necessary order. It is not a layman’s endeavor, nor the work of a pre-fab template. Professionals trained in web design and management on both the front and back ends are a must for a truly outstanding website.
IVY’s team of experts in the senior living space can bring excellent web content and design to life, bringing prospects to your virtual community and in your literal doors.
Spring brings the promise of rebirth, both figuratively and literally. New bulbs push their way through the soil, making beautiful metaphor of the way it feels to emerge from the doldrums of a long, hard winter.
Last spring, however, we were just awakening to a new and horrifying reality that a tiny virus was wreaking global havoc, affecting every facet of our daily lives. Senior living was hit particularly hard, with news of outbreaks, illness and death in some communities, casting a formidable shadow of doubt on all senior communities. The media’s feast on such news made it exponentially worse.
Fast forward a year later: with nearly three million residents and staff in senior living fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and 33 percent of all Americans (187 million) having received at least one dose, spring 2021 dawns with unparalleled hope and revitalized spirits.
Dr. David Gifford, chief medical officer for the American Health Care Association (representing thousands of American long-term care communities), was quoted in The New York Times as saying that the decline in cases of COVID in senior living is “amazing and exciting.” He added that he was “almost at a loss for words.”
The picture in senior living has brightened so much, in fact, it is worth sharing some comparative statistics between 2020 and 2021. Created by IVY Marketing Group, this infographic cites information from public health sources dating between February and April of 2021.
So, what does this mean?
Can residents, staff and stakeholders in senior living breathe a sigh of relief, celebrate the wonders of epidemiology, and go back to life as usual? Celebrate, yes. We’ve certainly earned it. Life as usual? Not so fast.
From a health standpoint, it will most likely be months before places outside the home will do away with the safety protocols with which we’ve become so familiar. Hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing have become second nature, a habit we would be wise not to completely kick.
Long before the pandemic, senior communities were adhering to strict hygienic practices, and while visitation and some outing restrictions have been lifted, several of the pandemic-induced safety measures are still enforced in senior living and will likely be for quite some time.
According to the founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), Colin Miller, “I don’t think there’s going to be a new normal, at least not anytime soon. It’s just going to be the next normal and the next normal.” He said this eight months ago, before COVID vaccine manufacturers were showing over 90 percent efficacy in clinical trials of over 80,000 people across all age groups.
Still, Miller has a point. While his prognostication of a continuous “next normal” sounds ominous, it’s good news from a business culture point of view. There are countless stories of how senior communities have sprung into novel action on a dime, proving that evolution doesn’t have to happen at a snail’s pace. Gone are the days when it took months and years for one change to be adopted.
In a comprehensive ICAA task force comprised of over 150 thought leaders recommending 900 ideas, strategies and tactics (whittled down to 35), a rosy view of the future of senior living was brought into focus. Six key strategies were identified:
Improve interiors and exteriors of buildings
Develop caring, passionate, purpose-driven staff
Use technology to optimize health and socialization
Establish a culture of positive aging
Be prepared for crisis
Share good news and positive stories to update perceptions of senior communities
In the year since the pandemic hit senior living full throttle, lightning speed adjustments have been made, new and valuable strategies have been implemented, nearly all seniors and staff in community living have been vaccinated, and, man, those comparative statistics between 2020 and 2021 are compelling!
A year ago, professionals in senior living were racking their brains trying to market to fearful prospects. Today, they can forge ahead with confidence and pride, not only in the literal health of their communities, but in the knowledge that when the unthinkable happened, their teams came together like the champions they are.
With 30 years of experience telling your stories and certified training in crisis communications, our IVY team of experts is uniquely qualified – and utterly thrilled – to help you show the world why your community is the first place people would want to be.
“Hey, you’re doing a good job,” said Keith, a hurried executive director over his shoulder to a nurse in a senior living community. The nurse welcomes the compliment in this fictitious scenario, but she’s left with questions. What exactly am I doing well?…Is he just saying that?…Does he even know my name?
“Mary, I wanted to tell you how much we appreciate you here,” said director of nursing Rob, stopping Mary in the hallway and looking her directly in the eyes. “Your warmth with residents and ability to see to their needs even before they ask is truly a gift. We are so fortunate to have you on our team, and you’re really helping us achieve our goals.”
As we well know at this point, almost a year to the day since the pandemic turned our lives upside down, those who care for others are some of the most dedicated, overworked people. They are the most deserving of truthful, positive, and specific recognition of their efforts – on a regular basis.
As leaders in the senior living space, we must be less like Keith, tossing out general platitudes while rushing on to the next thing, and more like Rob. At least Keith said something, right? Doesn’t that count? Yes, but now more than ever, we need to be intentional, genuine, and explicit in our praise of our treasured human resources. It’s interesting to note here that 67 percent of managers think they are above average in offering recognition, but only 23 percent of their employees agree, according to the authors of Leading with Gratitude.
Honing in on skills and gifts particular to each individual and recognizing the whole person in relation to work, home and family has tremendous impact on employee retention – more even than the almighty dollar. Indeed, a Gallup survey revealed that the top three things team members say they need to stay with a company are 1) appreciation; 2) help with personal problems; and 3) feeling “in” on things. Money was not among the top three.
But let’s not complicate things. While ceremonies and dinners and plaques in the lunchroom are nice, they’re impractical until herd immunity is achieved and can also feel a bit exclusive. Singular focus on one or two employees risks alienating others, especially the “silent heroes” among us.
Rather, it’s the micro-recognitions – the small, organic and consistent acknowledgments across the board – that pack the biggest punch in helping staff feel truly valued and appreciated. And while it’s certainly not rocket science, there are some practices leaders can employ that are especially effective.
Given that March is employee appreciation month, and senior living is an industry suffering staff turnover rates as high as 36 percent per year, now is an appropriate time to look at how we can inspire employees to stay.
Open Your Eyes
The bedrock of robust employee recognition is noticing the specific ways in which each individual team member is contributing to the health and mission of your organization. If telling your employees that you appreciate what they’re doing at the time they’re doing it isn’t possible or practical, keep a notebook of names and details that you can express to each person at a later time – but not too much later. How you express your gratitude, whether verbally, in a text, email, note, on social media (with permission), isn’t as important as what you say. Be specific, and praise often!
Open Your Ears
A huge part of feeling valued is feeling heard. Your employees are some of your best resources for ideas on how to improve programs and practices and implement new ones. Solicit and listen to their ideas, then really put them to use. Lip service will cause discouragement and motivation to find a more fulfilling work experience. And don’t forget to offer positive feedback on employees’ suggestions that are working well.
An “ivory tower” culture breeds contempt. Whether literal or figurative, separation between C-suite personnel and hands-on workers creates a barrier of exclusiveness that alienates and disheartens essential employees. Include all levels of staff in company-wide initiatives, changes, decisions, and solicit their ideas, feelings and feedback. Beware of optics too: posting photos of your fabulous vacations on social media or staying away from your community during COVID upticks or other threats sends the wrong message.
Brush Up on Soft Skills
Some leaders (even in an industry anchored in care) don’t naturally prioritize the “warm fuzzy” stuff that means so much to individual team members. Identifying those who need a little help with soft skills and offering them tools or training could go a long way toward keeping vital human resources for the long haul. The SAIL acronym might be useful for these folks: identify the Situation an employee was in; the Action they took; the Impact it had; then Link it back to the overall purpose of your organization.
Modern technology offers several platforms to help managers offer consistent positive feedback to staff and regularly gauge employee satisfaction. These platforms do for staff retention what other software does for meeting deadlines and sales goals.
Offer Special Perks
Essential workers need time off more than ever before. Offering rotating half days, covering a portion of gas or transportation fees to work, sending monthly goodies to their homes, inquiring about their families and where help at home may be needed…these are all meaningful ways to say “we appreciate you” to your staff. Of course, even a small raise or holiday bonus sends a big message of thanks.
Focus on Success
It’s easy to dwell on dwindling census, ailing residents, demanding safety procedures, low resident and family morale, but there is still much good news in senior living – even during a pandemic. Sharing with staff the little victories, innovations, triumphs and successes they made happen not only mitigates employee burnout, it sends a message of hope, resilience and recovery. This too shall pass, and when it does, your team will be stronger, more confident, and better able to serve current and future residents to the best of their amazing ability.
We at IVY are proud of our clients’ efforts to recognize their valued employees. We are also here to help them achieve the staff longevity that is so important to prospective residents and their families. With 30 years of marketing and public relations experience in the senior living space, our team of experts can help you craft intentional employee communications programs, incentives and initiatives tailored to your unique community, culture and common causes.
And because past and current staff members sometimes turn to employee websites to air grievances in the workplace, it is important to monitor those sites to stay apprised and ahead of potential conflict. We can help you with that, too.
Employee appreciation doesn’t end with the close of this month. It should be a priority every day of the year. Contact IVY Marketing Group to help you keep it top of your list.
A term taking center focus right now is vaccine hesitancy. As the general public is being strongly encouraged to take their place in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, some people are resisting; experiencing vaccine hesitancy. The resulting countermeasure is tagged vaccine confidence, meaning to establish trust in what is the only current way of eradicating COVID-19.
Just about a year ago, we were getting together with friends, hugging loved ones, going out to eat, seeing movies, going shopping, traveling, and engaging in the many other activities and pursuits that we enjoyed and often took for granted. Remember those times? Much of that came to a screeching halt when the country started experiencing the horrifying impact of COVID-19. The worst health crisis in a generation has sickened and killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, closed businesses, stores, and restaurants, wreaked havoc on our economy…the list goes on and on.
Operation Warp Speed (OWS) Largely through an initiative called Operation Warp Speed (OWS), there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. To date, two vaccines created by Pfizer and Moderna have been developed and tested and are being distributed to prevent people from becoming sick with COVID. More are likely on the way. The spread of information, misinformation, and confusing information is almost as quick as that of the virus. However, one thing is painfully clear. Without the vaccine, there is no end of COVID -19 in sight.
So let’s take a look at some of the credible information made available by leading experts in health, medical science, and infectious disease in order to help understand more about the impact of COVID-19 and the hopeful eventual eradication of the disease through the use of the vaccine.
There’s a long and interesting history about vaccines. What’s important to know in terms of vaccine confidence right now, is that vaccines are not new. The first official vaccine dates back to 1796 in England, when one was developed to combat smallpox. This was a devastating disease that, over many hundreds of years, killed countless people. Over many years it was refined and eventually used worldwide. The 33rd World Health Assembly cited that “eradication of smallpox is considered the biggest achievement in international public health.”
Eradication of a deadly disease through vaccination. That sounds exactly like what we’re hoping for now.
Other diseases successfully eliminated or significantly limited through vaccines are polio, diphtheria, mumps, measles, and rubella. So vaccines have a long, proven, and invaluable track record.
By the Numbers COVID-19 has played a devastating role in the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans. This number is climbing every day.
There’s a lot of skepticism about the reported number, as some people suspect it’s inflated; that COVID is being blamed for deaths because it is present in the body of the deceased but not necessarily the actual direct cause. The thought is that the number is being greatly exaggerated as a scare tactic or even as a hoax. For the purposes of defending the importance of the vaccine, however, consider this sobering fact. While complete data isn’t in yet, preliminary numbers show that more than 3.2 million Americans died in 2020. This is at least 400,000 more Americans that died in 2020, than in 2019. This 15% increase, which could go higher when final numbers are in, marks the largest single-year percentage increase in American deaths since 1918. That was a year when tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers died in WWI, and hundreds of thousands of Americans died because of the flu pandemic. These numbers make it reasonably easy to connect the dots on the direct or indirect mortality rate of COVID-19. There’s a lot of COVID out there and a lot of people dying from it, whether or not it’s the direct cause.
Add to that the fact that thousands of more people who are surviving the disease are dealing with prolonged debilitating conditions.
Furthermore, the number of people seriously impacted by COVID have put a serious strain on our hospitals and especially our ICUs.
Look at the numbers however you choose. COVID-19 is devastating.
Is Warp Speed Too Fast?
The good news is also the frightening news?
The term ‘warp speed’ became sci-fi talk in the mid-1900s, made popular by Dr. Spock, Captain Kirk, and Scottie as they talked about the phenomenal pace of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek. What is fun and exciting for the speed of a fictional space vessel becomes more intimidating when talking about the rate of developing a major health initiative. People worry, and rightly so, that something we’re being encouraged to inject into our bodies came about fast, awfully fast. While people are glad that there’s a weapon against COVID so soon (even though it’s felt like forever), it’s fair and reasonable also to be frightened about the speed. Were there corners cut?
Here are some facts about how this modern-day miracle was able to happen so quickly.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization for the two existing COVID-19 vaccines, which are available now, only after meeting rigorous criteria for safety and effectiveness. The EUA has determined that the known and potential benefits of the vaccines outweigh the known and potential risks for the vaccines.
While the COVID-19 vaccines are new, much of the science started years ago for other vaccinations. We were not, in this case, starting from scratch. That helped things develop much more quickly.
Collaboration overshadowed competition. The very best minds have been investigating and studying all components of the virus. Sure, pharmaceutical companies wanted to win the ‘first’ place finish, but there’s enough vaccine business to go around and more than enough pride to share.
The massive infusion of money from the government helped in a number of ways, including but not limited to motivation. It also ensured that vaccine developers had the resources they needed to get started working right away.
While finding volunteers to participate in medical trials is often a time-consuming challenge, such was not the case for the COVID-19 vaccines. There were many people eager to participate. This was aided through the use of social media, which helped to get the word about the need. The vaccines were tested on many thousands of people.
The massive infusion of government money facilitated the opportunity for steps in the process to be done simultaneously rather than incrementally. For instance, the government invested at its own risk, in necessary manufacturing capacity in advance while development was still underway. This let developers hit the ground running with manufacturing.
Two Doses? Why Do I Need to Do This Twice? It’s not unprecedented for a second or booster dose of a vaccination to be necessary. Such is the case with both of the existing COVID-19 vaccines. The double dose enables the immune system to provide longer-lasting protection. If someone receives just the first shot, there may be some protection, but it’s unclear how much and how long it will last. The full benefits are achieved by receiving both doses.
What About Side Effects There are potential side effects of the COVID vaccine. However, many people experience none at all. Some people’s side effects that are experienced include soreness at the injection site, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, and fever. These tend to go away after a day or two. There have also been some allergic reactions, especially by people who have had allergic reactions in the past. You’ll also, no doubt, hear about extreme reactions. While under careful investigation, most of these have not been tied to the vaccines.
There’s an important takeaway. There’s no apparent rhyme or reason why even young, healthy people are hit hard by COVID; sometimes extremely hard, and even fatally. You don’t know how COVID-19 will effect you. On the other hand, the most likely side effects of the vaccine pale in comparison to the potentially serious impact of the virus.
Is the Vaccine Going to Change my DNA? The vaccine does not change one’s DNA. In a nutshell, the COVD-19 vaccines use messenger RNA (nRNA). This is a genetic material that contains instructions for making proteins. It enters human cells and instructs them to produce the ‘spike protein’ that stimulates the body’s immune system to attack the coronavirus. The cell then degrades the mRNA, and there is no evidence that it remains in the cell. Dr. David Skorton, the President and CEO of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), reported that mRNA vaccines were made possible for COVID-19 “by decades of biomedical research within the academic medicine community.”
Will the Vaccine Protect Me? Will it Protect Those Around Me? According to the FDA, most vaccines that protect from viral illnesses also reduce viral transmission; the process by which viruses are spread by those who have been vaccinated. While there’s optimism about this being the case for the COVID-19 vaccines, the information is inconclusive at present. So while receiving the vaccine will protect you from getting sick, it’s unclear whether or not you can still transmit the virus to others. Therefore, for the time being, it’s strongly recommended to keep wearing a mask to protect other people.
Herd Immunity Also known as community immunity, herd immunity is a confusing concept. Johns Hopkins School of Public Health explains that herd immunity results when the majority of the population is immune from a disease, providing indirect protection to people who are not immune. To achieve herd immunity, a large percentage of the population needs to get infected and/or get the vaccine. If we waited for enough people to get infected, it’s estimated that millions would die during the process. Consequently, becoming vaccinated is crucial to developing herd immunity.
Become Informed by the Experts The available information about vaccines is abundant; some is reassuring, some is frightening, some is made by informed experts, some is theorized, some is accurate, some is false. As you decide whether or not you want to become vaccinated, do your own research and make sure you reference authorities who have informed insight. Make your decision based on fact, science, and expert knowledge. Don’t do yourself the disservice of depending on theorists or alarmists for determining your future.
In closing, a nurse was recently asked if she was going to get the vaccine. She responded with an emphatic ‘yes.’ When countered, “Aren’t you afraid?” She said, “I’ve seen COVID-19 and how it ravages people, and so that is what makes me afraid.”
For most of 2020, the coronavirus rendered senior communities some of the most dangerous places to be. The statistics are simply heartbreaking. Yet, with residents in senior living second only to frontline healthcare employees in line for the vaccine against COVID-19 (with some already having received it), senior communities will soon be among the most low-risk environments. According to Senior Living Foresight publisher Steve Moran, “By the end of January, senior living will likely be the safest place to live on the planet.” What’s more, the CDC and FDA will provide continuous vaccine safety monitoring and education for residents and their families.
Groundbreaking Science The science behind the COVID-19 vaccine is not only groundbreaking, it came with breathtaking speed. Even before the pandemic reached global proportions, drug manufacturers achieved unprecedentedlarge-scale successin clinical trials. The Medical Futurist posits, “Who would have thought that the genome of a virus could be sequenced within 24 hours? Not a single person would have bet on it before 2020.” Such effective, rapid epidemiologic response promises to continue in the future.
Hindsight and Foresight What we’ve experienced in 2020 has informed – and transformed – us forever, particularly professionals in care settings. They’ve risen above anyone’s wildest imaginings in creativity, adaptability and, yes, genuine heroism. 20/20 hindsight affords crystal clear foresight into what needs to be done in 2021:
The positive stories coming out of senior living need to be shared.
Staff in senior living need to feel valued and appreciated with formal incentives and recognition tactics.
Lingering negative impressions of senior living, reluctance to move in, and drop in census need to be mitigated with trained crisis communications.
Fresh Starts For most of us, 2020 couldn’t get off the calendar fast enough. Even for those disinclined to anticipate changes, expectations for 2021 are uniquely high. For older adults, a new year brings the potential for an enriching new life in senior living, especially as residents in senior communities are among the first to receive the COVID vaccine. Now is the time to “seize the day” and let prospects know all senior living has to offer, including renewed safety and security.
Warmer Weather and Longer Days Even before the short days and cold temperatures set in, people were dreading the onset of winter during a pandemic. But, as December 21 marked the longest night of the year, we are (albeit slowly) on the way to increased sunshine and balmier climes. Daylight savings time begins on March 14, when we will move the clock forward. Just a few days after that, spring will arrive, followed by sprouting bulbs, chirping birds and uplifted spirits.
Prioritized Healthcare Accompanying the nearly superhuman efforts of frontline workers during the pandemic were advances in healthcare that might otherwise have taken years to arrive. Telehealth technology has allowed patients to safely consult with medical professionals and receive necessary medications. Complex systems such as A.I. and network science have greatly increased applications in the healthcare realm. Governments have prioritized healthcare, and thousands upon thousands of important health studies have emerged. These encouraging trends stand to continue in 2021 and beyond.
Hope is as essential to human life as the air we breathe. Said Dr. Judith Rich, “Hope is a match in a dark tunnel, a moment of light, just enough to reveal the path ahead and ultimately the way out.” Given what we’ve been through in 2020, there are likely very few of us with little or no hope for 2021. It’s what keeps us going, what allows us to dream of the “agains” – the good kind, like gathering with friends again, hugging our grandchildren again, dining in our favorite restaurants again.
Faith Hope’s counterpart is faith. If ever there was a year to build faith in humanity, it was 2020. In spite of all the political vitriol and social injustice, random acts of kindness sprang up in every corner of the earth – among family, friends, neighbors, and total strangers. The indescribable grit, compassion, courage, heart, and dedication demonstrated by the countless people inclined to care for others is truly awe-inspiring. As fellow human beings, we are capable of magic – even in the worst of times. And that is perhaps the best thing of all going into 2021.
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 putthem 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.