President / Managing Partner
Matthew Jonas is president and co-founder of TopFire Media. As TopFire Media’s brand steward, he defines high-impact digital PR and marketing strategies for an impressive cache of consumer and franchise-based clientele. A seasoned marketer and highly respected franchising expert, Matthew has built a nearly 20-year career dedicated to delivering outcomes and results through an integrated and strategically-based approach for emerging, established and mature brands including HoneyBaked Ham, Huntington Learning Center, i9 Sports, Dale Carnegie Training, Nexterus, Kahala Brands, Pizza Hotline, Ville-Marie, Earl of Sandwich, and many others.
A product of the dot-com era, Matthew built his marketing expertise during digital media’s infancy, and continues to refine them today. With a distinct understanding and expertise of all digital strategies, and a persistent dedication to his craft, Matthew has successfully guided clients through the ever-evolving environment of the online media world.
Matthew speaks frequently at franchise and industry events and is an established thought leader in the marketing and franchising space. Matthew often contributes to Forbes, Franchising World, Franchising USA, Global Franchise, and several other publications.
In 2017, Matthew was named a member of the Forbes Agency Council, an invitation-only organization for senior-level executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies.
Vice President of Marketing
Mark Sharp has an extensive background in digital marketing strategy, content management, web analytics, SEO and PPC campaigns, project management, and team leadership.
Mark manages the digital side of TopFire Media, assisting with creating digital media strategies, project oversight, and internal team management.
Prior to joining TopFire Media, Mark spent nearly 14 years in higher education designing and developing award-winning university websites.
Mark has also served as adjunct faculty at Purdue University Calumet and Valparaiso University, teaching courses in user experience and interaction, web development, search optimization, and online advertising.
Mark has a B.A. in English and an MBA, specializing in Marketing, from Capella University.
Chief Operating Officer
Lia brings extensive experience in franchise marketing, franchise sales, communications, copywriting, and international business to TopFire Media. Her background in franchising spans more than 25 years, in the U.S. and abroad.
As the former Director of Marketing for iFranchise Group, Lia oversaw the design and production of hundreds of marketing pieces, and also developed comprehensive franchise marketing plans. Lia has also created market research reports, sales/marketing reporting tools, and has coordinated marketing and advertising campaigns (direct mail, print, and Internet), conducted consultative sales meetings, and created, edited and translated franchise operations and training manuals and other business documents. Her role on the TopFire Media team includes oversight of the organization’s ongoing operations.
In the U.S., Lia consulted with franchise companies including Ace Hardware, Bridgestone/Firestone, Texaco, Payless ShoeSource, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Sears Auto Centers, and many others. Outside of the U.S., she has consulted with franchisors primarily in Latin America and the Middle East. Lia is fluent in Spanish and holds B.A. degrees in English and Spanish from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), and an MBA with a focus on Latin America and marketing from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Digital Media Director
Eric Harold has an extensive background in digital and traditional marketing strategy to drive organic business growth for SMB and Fortune 500 companies through lead generation, CRM, email marketing, direct mail, sales strategy, content management, digital advertising, SEO, PPC, social media, and website development.
Prior to joining TopFire Media Eric worked in marketing for over 10 years. As Digital Media Director, Eric serves TopFire Media and it’s clients with creating digital media strategies, account management, project oversight, and internal team management.
Eric has managed direct marketing campaigns for companies including Lands End Business Outfitters, Staples and OfficeMax. He then worked for OfficeMax where he started as a marketing analyst and moved into a role managing sales strategy and led the development and execution of multi-channel CRM marketing programs. Later, he worked for Oracle where he managed Google’s CRM email marketing program development as an onsite consultant at Google HQ. He then worked in media managing lead generation and digital advertising programs for top technology companies including IBM and Microsoft. He has led a variety of projects including branding, website development, social media, SEO, PPC, digital advertising, and direct marketing for companies including Intel, Wells Fargo, and Kaiser Permanente. Eric holds an associate degree in liberal arts.
Jessica Emerson is an experienced marketing communications and public relations professional with a love for working with clients. Her goals are to help improve clients’ return on investment and to provide them with excellent service. Having worked with Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, and institutions of higher learning, Jessica has a broad knowledge base and diligently applies her talents to serve TopFire Media clients.
Prior to joining TopFire Media, Jessica worked in marketing communications and public relations for nearly eight years. Her skills include strategic planning, copywriting, website management, media pitching, and event planning. Jessica is also a certified English-as-a-Second- Language (ESL) teacher and has been a university instructor in ESL, English composition, and technical writing.
Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English language and literature from Creighton University and a Master’s degree in technical and professional communication from Auburn University. Currently, she is completing her doctorate of education (emphasis in organizational leadership) from Northcentral University.
Jen Plude is a digital-first marketer with extensive experience managing the creative and execution processes across marketing channels. At TopFire Media, she drives brand awareness by working closely with clients to develop and deliver customer-centric marketing strategies.
Prior to joining TopFire Media, Jen spent several years at Leo Burnett in Chicago, managing email project operations and various digital campaign aspects for leading brands, including Marlboro, Sealy, and Norton. This included promotional sites on both Facebook and microsites to increase brand awareness. Earlier in her career, she gained retail experience working in-house at Crate & Barrel, focused on marketing analytics to maximize store and eCommerce sales.
Jen holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Sales Leadership from DePaul University.
Rick brings 20+ years of experience to the creation and development of marketing plans, digital media plans, and franchise sales strategies. His expertise encompasses digital marketing, website creation, and SEO.
As an Account Executive, Rick is responsible for overseeing development and implementation of various digital services, including website design and development, LinkedIn marketing programs, SEO services, PPC campaigns, SMS marketing, and email marketing.
Prior to joining TopFire Media, Rick managed the marketing for a multi-unit retail chain and created marketing plans and marketing materials for franchisors. He also trained hundreds of franchisors on franchise marketing and sales. Rick holds a B.A. in Marketing Communications from Columbia College-Chicago.
Media Relations Strategist
Amy Kent is an award-winning journalist and communications specialist with experience in a variety of media platforms. Capitalizing on her storytelling prowess, Amy is able to communicate dynamic messages across multiple channels to help generate results for clients.
As a Media Relations Strategist, Amy works directly with clients in maintaining a positive brand image and communicating clear messages focusing on business development and growth. By working hand-in-hand with digital account executives, Amy and the public relations department at TopFire Media are able to utilize an integrated approach to establishing and implementing the best marketing strategies for clients.
Prior to joining the TopFire Media team, Amy worked as an assistant editor for a community newspaper in Iowa, covering local, regional, and national beats. In addition to earning statewide recognition for her writing talents, Amy is also an Associated Press award-winning photographer. Amy holds a B.A. in English and communications from Ashford University.
Media Relations Specialist
Lynn Rossi is a public relations professional who fell in love with the power of writing at a young age. As a digital marketing strategist, Lynn strives to showcase each client’s unique brand through all forms of storytelling, including public relations, content development and LinkedIn optimization.
During her time as a student at Illinois State University in Normal, IL, Lynn acquired experience in both agency and non-profit PR, holding internships with Illinois State University’s School of Communication, TopFire Media and Beagle Freedom Project. She also served as the director of public relations for ISU’s annual St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Up ‘Til Dawn event.
Lynn is an honors graduate of Illinois State University and holds a B.S. in Public Relations with a minor in Civic Engagement and Responsibility.
Media Relations Consultant
Sarah Frye is a business strategist, accomplished entrepreneur, and savvy marketing and public relations specialist. She has experience creating recognition for businesses ranging from startups to Fortune 100 firms. Her industry experience has been across a variety of sectors, including human resources, leadership development, energy efficiency, outdoor advertising, clean tech, nonprofits and more.
Sarah helps to inspire companies to reach their full brand potential and effectively communicate a client's value to key audiences through corporate planning, partnership development, social media, press releases, web site development, marketing collateral, print and broadcast media. She has extensive experience strategizing and executing local and national campaigns that help to convert prospects into customers.
For TopFire Media clients, Sarah serves as a public relations and communication consultant for a variety of businesses within the franchising community. She has a successful track record managing corporate communications including brand strategy, web content, media kits, newsletters, press releases and other marketing materials. Sarah's specialties include public relations, blog/speech/copy writing, brand advocacy, social media, community outreach, brand, media & content strategies, and strategic planning.
Sarah's published work includes, "Make the Most of Your Energy Use by Clicking the Green Button" from November 1, 2012 and "Energy Efficiency in Apartments Can Save Billions" from June 1, 2013.
Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts Cum Laude in Journalism from San Diego State University. She also holds course certificates for Achieving Top Search Engine Positions and Adobe InDesign.
Don Hommes is an expert at evaluations, diagnostics, and achieving master success levels of optimization for TopFire Media's clients' websites. He has worked in Search Engine Marketing over the last 10 years for eCommerce and digital media companies.
Don’s career began at Experian in the direct mail marketing division, where he worked with many clients including Allstate Insurance, Columbia House, Procter & Gamble, R.R. Donnelly and Time Warner, to name a few.
Don attended Prairie State College and Control Data Institute in Chicago, receiving a certification in computer programming and project management. He is also certified in Google Tag Manager Fundamentals, is a Google Analytics Qualified Individual and a Google Adwords Certified Professional.
Katelyn Houlne is an SEO expert with experience in assisting clients with their organic online search efforts in order to optimize their lead generation strategies.
As a Search Engine Optimization Specialist, Katelyn assesses client campaigns by partnering with in-house account executives to define, analyze and execute SEO goals, both general and keyword-specific. As part of ongoing activities, Katelyn is involved in providing analysis and recommendations to continually optimize clients’ campaigns.
Prior to TopFire Media, Katelyn worked at a digital marketing agency where she coordinated SEO and PPC campaign strategies, content development, and project management.
Katelyn graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in Marketing and a minor in Professional Communications.
Brian Plotke is a Pay Per Click Professional who crafts and executes advertising strategies aimed to find and attract potential leads through paid search and display advertising. Using a combination of keyword research, market, audience and competitor analysis, as well as client brand understanding, Brian works with Account Executives and team members on a portfolio of accounts to drive successful campaigns to achieve a positive ROI.
Brian has a wide background, working at JLL(Jones Lang LaSalle) in Accounting, Pivotal Home Solutions in Operations, and Byline Bank in Procurement. Brian’s true passion is working with TopFire Media’s clients in Digital Marketing to help them with their franchise marketing efforts and achieve short term and long term growth.
Brian is certified in Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Google Analytics, and has worked with major brands such as GM, Adventist Health, Kimberly-Clark and DirecTV.
Brian holds a B.S. in Marketing from Northern Illinois University with a focus on Interactive Marketing.
Digital Marketing Specialist
James Alsup has extensive experience in the areas of experiential marketing, video production, project management, digital media management, content development and digital media strategy.
As Digital Marketing Specialist, James analyzes and optimizes TopFire Media clients' Facebook and email marketing campaigns to reach their marketing goals and objectives.
Former experience includes working with Modern Luxury, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Fitch Ratings where he managed and developed websites, created impactful videos and podcasts, managed website publishing and social media teams, and oversaw email management and strategy.
James has a B.A. in Electronic Media with minors in Theatre and Sociology from Drake University.
Digital Marketing Specialist
John Vander Weit is a resourceful digital marketing specialist with over 10 years of diverse experience across multiple channels. John is proficient at proactively anticipating the needs of TopFire Media’s clients while improving efficiency and investigating solutions to maximize revenue.
John’s previous experience includes acting as AAA Rental System’s Digital Marketing Manager where he created year over year positive ROI on Google Adwords and Bing ads. He also utilized Facebook and Google retargeting campaigns streamlining customer engagement. Other areas of expertise include Linkedin, Twitter and website management through Wordpress.
John’s Digital Marketing Specialties include: Search Engine Marketing SEM, Pay Per Click PPC, Search Engine Optimization SEO, Social Media Marketing SMM, Social Media Optimization SMO, Email Marketing, Analytics and Optimization.
John has a BS in Marketing from DePaul University and is completing his Digital Marketing Nanodegree from Udacity.
Kellye Whitney is an award-winning editor and blogger. As a Content Strategist for TopFire Media, Kellye creates original content and provides strategic content marketing services for clients looking to feed the current digital media environment’s insatiable need for compelling storytelling.
Prior to joining TopFire Media, Kellye worked for more than 13 years at Human Capital Media, a publishing company in Chicago. As the Associate Editorial Director, she created and executed an integrated print and digital media strategy for three award-winning, global, monthly and bimonthly B2B trade publications, web sites, social media channels and live and online events.
Kellye has a degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Social Media Specialist
Katelyn Carrell is a marketing professional with a passion for social media marketing and design. She graduated from Purdue University Calumet where she received her bachelor of science in management, with a concentration in marketing, and minor in human resources. When Katelyn wasn’t in school she would donate her time participating in community outreach programs such as Junior Achievement and volunteered at local animal rescues.
As a Social Media Specialist at TopFire Media, Katelyn works hand in hand with the social media team creating social media campaigns, developing monthly social media calendars, posting content, reputation management, and overseeing social media accounts and trends. Katelyn also helps manage clients' LinkedIn campaigns as well as some of their graphic design needs.
Jamie Paul is a digital lead at TopFire Media with a background in website design and development, email marketing design and strategy, print and production design, and brand identity and roll out.
Prior to joining the TopFire Media team, Jamie’s enthusiasm for technical problem solving and a passion for detail landed her the role as Director of Web Design and Development at a brand identity firm in Northwest Indiana, where she introduced the web division, email marketing, and tech department within the company. With over eight years of exposure in the branding world, she also possesses an array of knowledge and skill for design and production of promotional materials, print, interior environment design, and technology maintenance, making Jamie an invaluable creative addition to the TopFire Media tool belt.
As the Lead Web Designer of TopFire Media, Jamie’s primary responsibilities include conceptualizing, developing and launching website projects, ranging from splash pages to full websites. She serves as our internal creative production resource, providing creative direction and email marketing insight for ongoing client projects.
Jamie holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Graphics Technology from Purdue University.
Web Designer and Development Consultant
Jeff Carter is often described as a “serial entrepreneur.” He spent much of his career working for start-up companies and new project development. His strengths include marketing, technology and building large, highly effective teams. He has created sales and revenue models with customer service teams that have dramatically altered the revenue and profit models of traditional sales and marketing organizations.
In the late 90’s Jeff recognized that the widespread adoption of the internet could be used to alter the landscape of marketing and customer service integrations. As Founder and Chief Customer Service Officer of an early web based development company, his company wrote one of the first Content Management Systems, and then extended it to include a CMR, E-Commerce engine, Email marketing platform and accounting system. Jeff later became a leader in custom built CRM’s, web based application and marketing system development and integrated email, SMS and social marketing.
As a Senior Project Director, Jeff develops and writes a variety of applications for TopFire Media. His digital marketing integrations of email, SMS and social media tools have frequently been developed into enterprise wide custom CRM deployments. His most often quoted line “Let’s see if we can prove it makes money before we spend like a drunken sailor on a weekend leave” is posted on bathroom walls in many high profile development and advertising agencies around the country. Jeff attended St. Olaf College and The University of Phoenix and majored in Accounting and Business Management.
Fatima Sheremetyeva has a strong technical skill-set and extensive knowledge in web development. She enjoys bringing ideas to life through technology and has a high awareness of industry issues and trends, particularly in regard to accessibility, usability and emerging technology.
Fatima has vast experience covering both Front-end and Back-end web development technologies. Prior to joining TopFire Media, Fatima worked as a freelance web developer followed by a web developer for Phoronix Media working on websites such as Phoronix.com and OpenBenchmarking.org.
Fatima has an A.S. in Computer Science from Triton College and is currently pursuing a B.S. in web design and development.
Vice President, Operations
Judy has more than 25 years of diverse franchise experience. As Vice President of Operations, Judy’s current responsibilities include developing and implementing various advertising and marketing efforts on behalf of iFranchise Group, a sister company to TopFire Media. Judy oversees the company’s budgets, schedules, quality control and systems. She is also responsible for the daily management and administration of the corporate headquarters, including the day-to-day management and production oversight.
Judy also coordinates the company’s marketing and advertising campaigns (direct mail, print, and Internet), and organizes and attends trade shows throughout the country, where she meets with individuals to discuss their readiness to franchise and asses their franchise potential.
Over the course of her career, Judy has developed the franchise marketing strategies that have launched some of the nation’s largest franchised brands including Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Sunshine Café, Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard, A Shade Better, and Starmark Kitchen & Bath. Prior to her role in marketing, Judy assisted franchise with legal compliance issues. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from Purdue University.
Jaimee Imbery began her career as an administrative assistant at TopFire Media’s sister company, iFranchise Group, and has been with TopFire Media for over four years.
As the executive assistant for TopFire Media, Jaimee is a jack-of- all-trades, and assists the president with a multitude of tasks including client proposals and new client onboarding. She is responsible for everything from scheduling meetings, preparing materials for trade shows, and TopFire Media’s internal marketing reports. She also assists with TopFire Media’s client digital media assessments. Jaimee is proficient at coordinating schedules and has a keen eye for details to help ensure that the TopFire team stays on task.
Jaimee is currently attending Lewis University, where she is pursuing a B.A. in Criminal Justice.
As an Administrative Assistant, Theresa Healy assists the TopFire Media organization with tasks related to prospective clients, data entry, scheduling, research, record keeping, and overall office functioning. She works directly with the President and Executive Assistant and also collaborates with the entire TopFire Media team, when needed.
Theresa holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from Saint Xavier University in Chicago.
Digital Media Intern
As a digital media intern, Matty Jo Ruff assists the digital media marketing department with LinkedIn connection building for our clients at TopFire Media. She also has a flare for email marketing, and assists with content development and design to assist clients with their lead generation strategies.
Matty Jo Ruff is currently enrolled at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, and will graduate in December 2017 with a B.S. in Allied Health Science.
A franchise business consultant since 1985, Mr. Siebert founded the iFranchise Group in 1998 as an organization dedicated to developing long-term relationships with successful franchisor clientele. Mr. Siebert has worked with hundreds of franchisors, from start-up operations to corporate giants. He is an expert in evaluating companies for franchisability, structuring franchise offerings, and developing franchise programs.
Specializing in aggressive growth strategies and implementation, Mr. Hood has held senior management and consulting positions within the franchising and retailing industries since 1988. He is an expert in areas of franchise development and implementation, retail management, site selection, international business, and strategic planning.
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our working processin 3 steps
TopFire Media knows franchising. We understand how to leverage and optimize digital marketing and public relations to help franchisors launch, renew, or differentiate their concept with potential franchisees.More about us +
planning & strategy
Our team develops plans and strategies that highlight your brand and motivate your target audiences to act.
design & develop
We create customized solutions for all of our digital clients.
test & deliver
Through ongoing communication, we quantify results for our clients and show the ROI of our work for them.