Kisco Senior Living specializes in developing and managing full-service premier rental senior living communities across the country. Their key differentiation centers on delivering 5-star service for the safety, health, and well-being of their residents. All 20 communities in the Kisco portfolio feature a broad spectrum of individualized services and lifestyle options. The COVID-19 pandemic affected all senior living communities in ways that negatively impacted the industry as a whole. Fortunately, The Point Group had provided extensive crisis communication training to Kisco well in advance of the coronavirus situation. Being prepared to handle media inquiries put Kisco at an advantage when a handful of its communities recorded a few cases. At the onset, Kisco relied on the Point Group’s expertise to take the lead on media relations and crisis communication at the community level. From the start, we advised complete transparency was crucial, especially given the intense spotlight in national news for the Kirkland, Washington skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, where the first known cases emerged, and more than 35 people connected to the community had died. Our experienced response team knew that the first line of defense was to get in front of the situation and assist the executive directors and home office operations team with residents, family, and associate communications tailored to address the specific cares of each audience. For those Kisco communities impacted by COVID-19, we developed holding statements with continuous updates to media as conditions evolved. This communication was hand-delivered to residents, shared via email and social media and posted on each individual community’s website. We collaborated with Kisco’s marketing team to create stability and targeted messaging, using the CEO as the face of the crisis in two essential videos. The next phase of communications was strategically designed to counter the negative news around COVID-19 and senior living. The Point Group capitalized on positivity, highlighting unique and interesting ways the communities engaged residents during the pandemic and pitching heartwarming stories to the media.
Knowing how to approach the media, having been in their shoes, our PR team forged a campaign that brought unique stories to the forefront that celebrated the positive side of senior living with visuals and videos the media could use since they were not allowed onsite. From a 101-year-old-resident recovering from the virus to the creation of an on-site daycare for associates’ children to concerts in the community courtyard and art projects from local children, we focused on securing local coverage that showcased Kisco’s commitment to its residents and associates, despite the challenge presented by the pandemic. In six weeks, The Point Group secured more than 150 news stories, with nearly 75 percent of them focused on the uplifting human-interest stories coming out of the local communities and an earned media value eclipsing $1.2 million.Additionally, the majority of the stories that covered the positive COVID-19 cases were objective and presented the information we provided accurately, which we attribute to our transparency and responsiveness to all media inquiries. Our rapid response crisis communication team held a seat at every Operations meeting throughout the crisis. What could have resulted in a mass erosion of occupancy turned into an opportunity to bring Kisco to the next level. We continue to play a critical role in actively pursuing programs for Kisco to proactively address safety and security concerns for the industry.