I have to say I’m very excited for this weekend! Not only is it the 4th of July, which is one of my favorite holidays (I’m a sucker for fireworks), but it is also the wedding weekend of my very best friend! This was my first experience as a Maid of Honor, and as fun as the bridal shower and bachelorette party planning were, being a Maid of Honor is a lot of work!
I’m lucky that through many of my clients, I have become a mini ‘wedding expert’ and was able to offer advice based on what I’ve learned from each of them. Through my work with Blue Plate Catering, I was able to offer the latest bridal culinary trends. My experience working with The Chicago School of Flower Design had me suggesting DIY flower décor tips (who would have thought I would ever have advice in that arena), and I found myself constantly encouraging the bride-to-be to visit ForYourParty.comto check out their custom wedding party favors, invitations and more.
I’m looking forward to seeing what pieces of advice she incorporates in her wedding but know that no matter what it will be a weekend to remember!
The Zapwater Communications team took a little break last week for a team outing at Bull & Bear to cheer on Team USA at the World Cup. These types of team outings are commonplace at Zapwater, and one of the main reasons we have such a strong team dynamic. We take our work very seriously, but we also always find ways to balance that with a little fun (and in this case, games).
CS BRIDES IS OUT!
For betrothed ladies and anxious singles, alike, the Fall/Winter issue of CS Brides is the much-anticipated guide for all things whimsical and elaborate. Released early June – perfect timing for brides-to-be in the midst of planning their autumn and winter nuptials – this magazine provides an atypical perspective on the wedding planning processes, providing big city brides with insight into upcoming trends, the city’s most seasoned vendors, and a behind-the-scenes look inside real Chicago weddings that are sure to inspire.
Zapwater clients BluePlate Catering and the Chicago School of Flower School Design were among the bevy of local businesses that were featured this issue. Check it out at www.modernluxurybrides.com/chicago
Like millions around the globe, the Zapwater team is following the World Cup. Go Team USA! We’re actually closing the office for a bit on Friday morning to root for Team USA vs. Slovakia. The question is do you think we can get Susie to do the Waka Waka?
MAYRA’S COMENTARY ON THE FINANCIAL CRISIS…Continued
After home sale prices reached a peak high between 2001 and 2007, the housing market collapsed in 2007. In an effort to rejuvenate the market, Homebuyer Tax Credit Programs were implemented in 2008. While a credit is always a benefit and it may even stimulate spending as it puts more dollars in the hands of qualifying tax payers, I do not think this program targeted the most affected parties. As a result, the program did a poor job of reviving home sales and creating any real lasting effect.
The collapse of the housing market was actually a market “correction.” There seems to be consensus that real estate assets are now accurately valued, which means it’s a good time for people to enter the market and purchase a home. If that is the case, which I believe it is, then why does a first-time homebuyer need an $8,000 tax credit? Since 2008 any first-time homebuyer would be purchasing an asset that is properly valued so a credit is giving them a discount rather than assisting the seller that is more than likely taking a loss. The tax credit did spark activity by motivating first-time buyers to engage in a market where confidence levels were low. This group of buyers also had the capability to pull the trigger on a purchase since they did not own property that needed to be sold first. I understand those reasons; however I would argue that of all the Americans hit so hard by the state of the housing market, the first-time buyer is at the bottom of the list. While the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit temporarily increased the number of homes purchased, it did not get us any closer to stabilizing the housing market in the long term. There are still millions of property owners sitting on devalued assets that have foreclosed or are on their way to foreclosure.
People who purchased homes during the peak years referenced above overpaid significantly as home prices were artificially inflated. However, if those same people also sold a home during that time, then the gain on the sale of home #1 was used to overpay for home #2. Yes, that person will take a loss in the current market if he or she decides to sell now, but they received a large gain as a result of the overvaluation in the year they sold home #1. So, in my opinion, the Repeat Homebuyer Tax Credit was another miss. The $6,500 credit may have temporarily increased the number of homes purchased, but it still did not target the exact group that is hurting or provide any lasting results.
Now think about the person like me that bought their first home during the height of the market. I overpaid for a property in 2005. A gain from the sale of another home did not give me the capital to purchase my home – my savings did. I am looking at a loss in the neighborhood of $75,000. I have to sell this property and take that loss in order to buy my next property. I am no longer a first-time homebuyer, so I do not qualify for that credit. And, the $6,500 Repeat Homebuyer Credit is simply not enough. If I face a loss of $75,000 and have to come to the closing table with that cash, what are the chances that I will also have the down payment needed for the purchase of my next home? And, if I do, does a credit of $6,500 really help? Please, it’s a drop in the bucket.
So, my Congressmen, noodle through it, as my husband would say. Think about and research the market conditions before implementing policies and wondering why they aren’t having the impact you anticipated. If you’re going to meddle, forget about incentivizing the broad and large groups of “first-time homebuyers” or “repeat homebuyers” and directly target those that were hit the hardest: first-time homebuyers between 2001 and 2007. Extend the Repeat Homebuyer Tax Credit and base the credit on market conditions and median home prices in each zip code across the country. If first-time homebuyers between 2001 and 2007 receive a larger credit to assist with the down payment of a new home and offset losses on the sale of their existing property, there might be real movement of housing inventory as those buyers would be freed of their overvalued obligations.
BRING ON THE BIG BOYS
I’ve been meaning to post on the Zapwater Blog for a while. But somewhere between the blog’s migration from Blogger to WordPress, I never got around to it. I was going to write about the PCC Golden Trumpets.
A few weeks ago, the Publicity Club of Chicago held its 51st annual Awards for PR Excellence in downtown Chicago. As some of our team members headed up to be recognized for their PR work in categories such as Special Events-Sports, Marketing-Lifestyle and ReBranding/Marketing-Healthcare, I was very proud to be a member of Zapwater, standing tall next to some of the usual suspects of global PR players. It’s very rewarding to be a part of a boutique agency that brings larger/global agency talent together in a boutique setting. Now 5 years strong, Zapwater is certainly in steep growth mode, both through organic client growth and also recent account wins that further demonstrate our expertise in categories such as Sports Corporate/BtoB, Consumer Brands, Food/Beverage and Technology/Electronics, not only in Chicago but also on the National and Global scale. Stay tuned for additional news in the coming months, as Zapwater continues to be an agency on the move, and one to watch!
ELLA MASAR’S SUPPER CLUB
As many of you know, Zapwater is the public relations agency for the Chicago Red Stars of the Women’s Professional Soccer league. What you might not know is that many of the players are not only from all around the country, but also around the world.
I took it upon myself to expand my new friend “Ella from Urbana’s” culinary horizons. Just like that Ella Masar’s Supper Club was born. Since its inception, others have joined in. Natalie Spilger is now a regular. Each week, I introduce her to a new Chicago restaurant and each week, Ella tweets about her favorites.
I have to say, when the Supper club started, I had my doubts about Ella. But as she told me, “I’m a professional soccer player, I can eat with the best of them.”
Our first stop was Little Bucharest Bistro in Old Irving Park. There are several stories that could be told about this dining experience, but the one that sticks out was when the owner blessed the table with “Holy Water.” That was a story in itself.
Ella’s favorite dish – Crispy Kataifi Wrapped Shrimp
Next stop on the culinary tour was Duchamp in Bucktown/Wicker Park.
Ella’s favorite dish – Duchamp Burger (Chicago Magazine’s Best in Chicago)
The I’m not in Urbana any more moment – Ella learning what Head cheese is and liking it.
Ella’s favorite dish – Tempura Sweet Potato Fries.
As the Supper club progressed, I convinced Ella to get a little more adventurous. Next stop, Longman & Eagle in Logan Square.
Ella’s favorite dish – Carrot Soup.
Next week, the”Supper Club” visits LM Restaurant in Lincoln Square. Any additional suggestions for Ella? Send them my way.
SHOWING MY FAMILY OUR LIVES AT ZAPWATER
Last week I had the pleasure of hosting my family when they were in town from Denver for the annual face off between the Colorado Rockies and the Cubs. I don’t often get a chance to see my parents as much as I would like with them living in another state. I was all the more thrilled that the trip would coincide with event season at Zapwater. Last week, we hosted a Sex and the Windy City event at RA Sushi in Glenview. The night included signature rolls based on the show’s fabulous four characters, RA-smopolitans, and a fashion show MC’d by yours truly that featured looks inspired by Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Ladies busted out their best stilettos to win the “Best Stilettos” contest and left with passes to the exclusive Chicago screening of the film.
Sex and the City is something my Mother and I have enjoyed watching since it started. I was sad to learn I wouldn’t be able to see the upcoming film with her but was so happy she was able to attend our event. She cheered us all on, noshed on themed sushi, and helped herself to more than a few cosmos. The event was a rousing success and was such an amazing pay off for my mother to see all the hard work we had put in!
“BRAND” NEW IDENTITY CRISIS
Every Sunday, I set my DVR for CBS Sunday Morning, a show that covers topics from politics to the arts, healthcare to business, and fashion to technology. One minute you’re hearing about the unique ways that Zappos.com entertains employees, and the next you’re taking in an in-depth interview with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. It’s a brilliant show.
A couple months ago, CBS aired a segment about the “Google Doodles,” the ever-so-talented team of artists based at Google’s Silicon Valley corporate headquarters. What’s their job? To come up with creative concepts to change the way the Google logo looks in order to represent a holiday, special occasion, story, etc. The artists use digital canvases to create intricate artwork that disappears in just 24 hours. From changing the Google logo to “Topeka” on April Fool’s Day to celebrating the anniversary of Sesame Street, the Doodles find a fun way to celebrate life. To see the archive of the Google doodles, visit here.
The CBS segment brought up an interesting question, “Does altering your company’s logo (or any aspect of your company’s identity) change the way consumers view your brand?” By adjusting the Google logo, a key symbol of their brand identity, does that have a negative effect on the company’s profitability?
While opinions may vary on the subject, my belief is that in this digital age, “change” is as powerful of an action as it is profitable. The Internet and social media is changing at such a quick pace that consumers are forced to go along with it.
Now, does that mean that companies should change your logo every year? No. But it does mean that you should consider how change could impact your brand and take it to the next level. Worried about the impact? Consider the fact that Nike consistently changes the color of their signature swoosh on shoes, Saks Fifth Avenue changed their logo for an anniversary, and even Mr. Christian Louboutin himself once changed his signature red soles to blue. While you won’t see Zapwater changing our logo anytime soon, we are planning some major changes that will impact the way you see our brand. And trust me, it’s worth the wait.