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July 13, 2014

ZAP Bites: Delish, Made-from-Scratch Holy Omega Granola Bars

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:00 am

Made from scratch/homemade snacks and recipes are at the tipping point of going from on-trend to mainstream, especially for health and food enthusiasts who prioritize eating a natural, wholesome and functional diet – free of processed foods and ingredients. In particular, one snack item that seems to be all the rage right now are homemade granola bars, given the combination for ingredients (e.g. fruit, nuts, seeds and more) are endless, they’re simple to make, are portable and can be eaten at any time of day – breakfast, snack/pre-workout, etc.

Chef Suzy Singh, Corporate R&D Chef for NOW Foods, a natural products manufacturer based in Chicago (and client!), created a no-hassle “Holy Omega Granola Bar” that’s pretty incredible, and features non-GMO, trending ingredients, such as Agave Nectar for a natural sweetener and binder.

This is not to be missed, and one batch creates a great snack for the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Holy Omega Granola Bars!

(Serves 8)

Ingredients:

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 F (375 F convection). Line quarter sheet pan with parchment paper.

2) In large bowl combine flax seed meal, chia seed meal, and brown rice protein with 1¼ cup of water.

3) Stir for 3 minutes or until mixture thickens to a gel like consistency.

4) Add all ingredients and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

5) Spread mixture onto sheet pan using dough scraper until height of granola bars are ½ inch tall.

6) Place in oven for 25 minutes.

7) Allow granola to cool for 30 minutes or until it has firmed but still is soft to the touch.

8) Cut into 4 inch bars and serve cooled. Store in air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

- Alana Horinko, Vice President

July 10, 2014

Client Happenings: The West Loop’s Modern Mexican Experience – más

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:00 am

Mexican is hands down my favorite genre of food. From the complex flavors and vibrant colors to that perfect bite of guacamole, I could eat Mexican every day. So when we had the opportunity to open más, a new modern Mexican restaurant, I couldn’t have been more excited – plus it was in the West Loop and two blocks from our office. Can’t beat that!

más isn’t your typical Mexican restaurant. The kitchen is led by Chef and Partner Yanni Sanchez (formerly of Sabor Saveur on Division) and has a menu full of savory tacos, fresh crudos and sharable plates rich in Mexican tradition but peppered with global flavors presented in a beautiful way that lets chef’s French training sing. The cocktail program reflects the restaurant’s emphasis on freshness and focuses on craft cocktails made with tequilas and mezcals. They also make their own homemade aquas frescas and have partnered with Sparrow Coffee to create a unique brew for the restaurant.

más offers the culinary prowess expected of the West Loop neighborhood in an environment that is both lively and approachable. The space feel contemporary with sleek décor but has a tone of comfort to it too. A custom Aztec-inspired wall fixture serves as a focal point when you enter the space and the lounge area is anchored by a 16-foot bar with an adjacent drink rail for those looking to savor a signature cocktail or two. I’ve already established the Watermelon Margarita as my go-to summer cocktail.

Must try items on the menu include tropical guacamole with root chips, fish tacos with watermelon gazpacho, rajas con queso tacos, Yellowtail crudo, and the Mexican donuts.

For more information on más check out www.barmaschicago.com or follow them on social at @mastacoschicago.

- Annie Block, Vice President

 

July 8, 2014

Meet Team ZAP: Mentor to Mentoree

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:00 am

Recently, I was able to take a moment to sit down with one of my professional mentors, Michael Corrigan. Michael is an account supervisor at Zapwater and almost five-year veteran to the agency. I have worked with Michael for numerous projects and wanted to sit down for a quick session to pick his brain about his professional work and what it means to be a great publicist!

AL: What qualities do you need to have to be a great publicist?

MC:  I think, personally, that writing is a really important part about being a publicist, but I sometimes think that our industry puts too much emphasis on it. The difference between a good publicist and great publicist is the ability to understand timing. Timing is how you stay strategic and think ahead. You need to know what media is working on and when they need materials sent. Some other great qualities are time management, thinking quickly and multi-tasking.

AL: How do you show others that you believe in them?

MC: I am huge advocate for positive feedback. I love to celebrate agency “wins.” Also, learning how to give constructive feedback without being harsh is important, and you should be receptive to people coming to you for help and questions.

AL: When is breaking the rules OK?

MC: In terms of creative ideas, there should be no rules. The needs are different for every client. We should not constrict ourselves to something routine. Always be willing to go outside the box.

AL: What does working ‘on’ your business mean to you?

MC:  Nobody is perfect in terms of work or life. So it’s knowing what your strengths are and playing to them and knowing what your weaknesses are, admitting it’s a weakness, and always pushing yourself to improve in areas you are not as strong in.

AL: How and where do you find inspiration?

MC: Social media! Instagram is HUGE for our industry! Being visually inspired is imperative to stay creative in your day-to-day work. Traditional media is just as important, too. I just try and soak in as much information as I can!

AL: How do you keep your feelings from clouding your decision-making?

MC: I wear my heart on my sleeve, so that is something I am always trying to work on. I have a new trick that when I have a tough decision, I try to count to five or 10 before I react. This way, I make a sound judgment rather than an emotional one.

AL: What do you do to live a balanced life?

MC: Don’t underestimate a hobby that you enjoy. I love to read, travel, and take cheerleading aerobics. Of course, living in Chicago I really enjoy eating food! Never underestimate the ability to take a vacation somewhere where you can turn your phone off. Especially in PR—the ability to unplug is SO important to live a balanced life.

AL: Who has influenced you the most?

MC:  My dad. My dad has been working in baseball for more than 30 years now and he STILL loves what he does. That always inspired me to know that life is too short so you should really do something that you love. PR does have its challenges and stress; but ultimately, I know it’s what I love and what I want to do! So I consider myself lucky!

- Alexis Lucente, Assistant Publicist

July 2, 2014

ZAP Bites: A Quick and Easy Summer Recipe

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:00 am

Summer is officially here, and for Chicagoans, that means an endless amount of rooftop parties, barbeques, etc. I’ve always followed the rule that you should never show up to a party empty-handed (thanks, mom!), so I’m always in search of the perfect party pleasing dish. While I’d like to pretend, I’m certainly not a master chef either, so simplicity is key.

And nowadays, it seems like dietary restrictions are getting more and more plentiful. Seems like everyone is either gluten free, dairy free, etc. As a result, I’ve been testing out vegan recipes more and more. Much to my surprise, I’ve found a lot of great options that are delicious, healthy and easy to whip up in the kitchen. I was thrilled when I came across this summer quinoa recipe. It’s full of fresh flavor for summer, super easy and packs a protein punch. For anyone planning to attend a summer party, this is a great make-ahead salad too – you can prep it the night before and let it sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Cumin Lime Black Bean Quinoa Salad
Makes 6.5 cups (or serves 4)

*recipe and images courtesy of Oh She Glows, Angela Liddon

For the salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (or 3 cups cooked)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans (or 1.5 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 cups cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 small/medium carrots, julienned (about 1.5 cups) OR 1 large chopped and roasted sweet potato
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • fine grain sea salt & black pepper, to taste

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1. To prepare the quinoa: Rinse quinoa. Add into pot along with 1.5 cups water or veggie broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low-medium, and then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer for 15-17 minutes until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. Remove from heat and steam with the lid on for 5 additional minutes. Fluff with fork and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, toss the quinoa, drained and rinsed black beans, cilantro, carrots (or roasted sweet potato), and green onions.

3. Whisk together the dressing in a small bowl. Pour onto salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I prefer to enjoy this salad chilled, so I usually throw it into the fridge for at least an hour.

- Morgan Bellock, Account Director

June 25, 2014

Client Happenings: Chicago is in Full Bloom with Kalla

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:00 am

Beautiful bouquets of flowers, decadent designer chocolates and wine straight from Napa Valley… these are a few of my favorite things! And now thanks to Kalla, all of these delightful indulgences are at Chicagoans fingertips.

Kalla, a new luxury floral brand that arrived in Chicago this June, is transforming the way Chicagoans give and receive flowers. Kalla is more than a floral delivery service – it’s a one-of-a-kind experience.  To deliver on this promise of uniqueness, Kalla offers a truly special service from start to finish. Senders choose from a curated selection of limited edition—and stunningly gorgeous—bouquets, which vary according to season. Each bouquet has its own story, offering a window into its origins and design.

Senders can choose to pair indulgent chocolates and expertly chosen wines, which arrive via white glove delivery – arriving perfectly framed and ready to be placed – even the vases and boxes are works of art. Finally, to create a real-time experience, senders can create a video that accompanies each delivery.

To see Kalla’s bouquets in person, visit the Kalla Pop-Up Shop at the 900 North Michigan Shops during the month of June.

-Brigid Parr, Senior Publicist

June 22, 2014

Around Town: A First-In-Class Choice for Childcare/Preschool

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:00 am

As a working mom of two little girls, one of the toughest decisions for my kids – and also a top priority – is childcare and education. There are a variety of options, from in-home sitters and daycares to childcare centers and preschools, and deciding on the best choice for your family often takes hours, days and even months of researching, interviewing, touring, checking references and more.

For moms and dads looking for immediate care or starting the process for fall childcare/preschool enrollment, I couldn’t be more thrilled to help make this process a little easier for you, and encourage you to check out The Gardner School [client]. The Gardner School (TGS), with five easily accessible Chicagoland locations – Naperville, West Loop, Glenview-Northbrook, Bucktown, Oakbrook (opened in May!) and Lincoln Park opening early 2015 – is a first-in-class choice families can count on.

Dubbed the “Princeton of Preschools,” TGS is an award-winning, academically focused private preschool offering early childhood educational programs for children ranging in age from 6 weeks to five-years-old (private pre-kindergarten). New this fall, they’ll be offering private kindergarten at the Glenview-Northbrook and Naperville locations.

What I love about TGS:

  • They’re committed to redefining early childhood education by providing a rich learning environment that will stimulate each child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth. A careful blend of traditional- and Montessori-styles of learning create a unique learning atmosphere that balances child- and teacher-directed educational activities. Understanding that each child learns at his or her own pace, TGS’s teaching philosophy incorporates structured play, while remaining flexible enough to foster individual self-discovery.
  • They’re focused on faculty. They go to great lengths to ensure that all teachers meet the qualifications set by the state and complete extensive training and orientation programs. The TGS degreed and highly qualified teachers are carefully selected based upon education, previous teaching experience, love of children and the ability to bond and effectively communicate with their students.
  • They’re focused on family and school-day enrichment. Knowing that many families who choose TGS are dual-working households, TGS offers a suite of enrichment programs during the day to not only enhance each child’s unique abilities and stimulate a well-rounded education, but also to help families maximize their time together in the evenings and on the weekends.
  • They offer unparalleled facilities educationally engineered to foster discovery, creativity and exploration, including a dedicated cafeteria, covered indoor play area, computer lab, and enrichment studio. Parents are afforded peace of mind by the school’s strict safety and security features, including a closed-circuit camera system and unique PIN-codes for entry.

To help you in your search, check out this comprehensive checklist of what questions to ask/what to look for when visiting a potential childcare center/preschool, provided by TGS.

Good luck!

- Alana Horinko, Vice President

June 19, 2014

ZAP Style Notes: Top Five Summer Beauty Finds

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:00 am

Now that summer is FINALLY here, I wanted to share some of my favorite beauty products for the season. I’m sort of a beauty product junkie and love trying and testing out new makeup and skin care. I’m happy to have narrowed down my summer must-haves that work on even the hottest days:

  1. Nars Bronzer/Blush Duo: This product is hands down my favorite makeup product. The bronzer/blush duo gives you that perfect summer glow.  (Sephora, $42)    
  2. Coola Sunscreen: This is a spray on sunscreen that will not only protect from UV rays, but it will nourish, hydrate and repair damaged cells. It is made with organic ingredients and leaves a light beautiful scent (not like a typical sunscreen). (spa at dana, $32) 
  3. Aqua Eyes by Make Up For Ever: This waterproof eyeliner is one of the best, even in the most humid conditions. It was actually made for the Parisian Aquatic Ballet so it doesn’t smear or crease. I prefer black, but brown is nice for the summer months. (Sephora, $19)

  1. Agave Healing Oil Treatment: I have naturally curly hair and after I sampled this product in my Birchbox, I fell in love. It tames my strands without weighing my hair down and also smells amazing. (Sephora, $40)
  2. Essie Nail Polish in Sand Tropez: Essie’s Sand Tropez is the perfect neutral polish for the summer. It gives nails a clean and elegant look and looks even better with a tan! (Ulta, $8)

- Stephanie Reay, Publicist

June 16, 2014

Social Media Spotlight: The Way To Your Fans’ Hearts? Photos

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 3:56 pm

The latest studies and statistics report that images grab more attention than text or links alone. Twitter and Facebook even recently redesigned their platforms to favor images; and HootSuite, the leading social media managing dashboard, updated to allow TwitPic for image hosting which enabled images to display on Twitter feeds rather than through clicking the links. Long story short, social media platforms are making it easier than ever for brands to optimize their social media presence with visuals.

So now that we have that covered, what images drive the most likes, comments, shares, retweets, and clicks? Mashable, the leading source for news, information and resources for digital innovation, provided the top 10 images to help boost your social media engagement.

  1. The Product Shot. Every business and brand has a product to display. Whether you’re selling ice cream or insurance, software or footwear, you have something tangible to exhibit in your social media stream. Don’t just talk about what it is you have to offer your audience. Show it off in pictures. The more, the better.
  2. The Team Picture. Did you play organized sports growing up? How many team pictures do you have from back in the day? That’s the idea here. Only, don’t feel you have to wait for a special occasion. Take pictures of your colleagues on a regular basis and share them with your audience. People do business with people, so do everything you can to humanize your brand.
  3. The Spotlight on Your Fans. Everybody likes attention, especially from someone they look up to and admire. Shine the spotlight on your followers and fans. Give their photos a much bigger stage by repurposing them on your own social channels. Retweet them. Tag them. Make it all about them, not you. Give them their 15 minutes of fame and they’ll give you more loyalty in return.
  4. The Peek Behind the Scenes. Provide your constituents with something they can’t get anywhere else, whether it’s exclusive photos, a big reveal, or something they wouldn’t see otherwise. Take them backstage. Invite them into your inner sanctum. Show them how your products are built. Give them a look at what goes on behind closed doors. You get the picture.
  5. The Action Shot. While a team picture may be posed, your action shots are of you and your fellow team members actually doing what you do best. It’s doesn’t matter whether you’re speaking at a podium, swinging a baseball bat, or sitting in front of a computer writing the great American novel, it’s still a performance. Capture your people in the act of doing their jobs and share it with your audience.
  6. The Graphic. Creating your own visuals from scratch is a great way to add variety to your stream and call more attention to your posts. Use PowerPoint, Photoshop, PicMonkey, and other such tools to add special effects and text to the images you share. You could even go so far as to create your own infographics. A combination of data, words, and pictures is one of the best ways to increase your engagement and reach on social media.
  7. The Spontaneous Shot. One of the best benefits of using social media for marketing is the power it gives you to connect with your constituents in real time. In fact, it’s expected of you. Capitalize on the extemporaneous nature of these channels by sharing impromptu, candid shots of you and your team in the moment. What’s happening now is far more credible and commanding on social media than old news or posed pictures.
  8. The Moving Picture. No, I didn’t forget about video. In fact, most businesses and brands consider it a must-have ingredient in their content marketing mix. YouTube, Vine, Instagram — each of these channels presents an abundance of opportunities for creating original footage which can eventually be cross-promoted across the social landscape. Don’t worry about going viral. Worry about one watch at a time. If people like it, they will share it. And you’ll have a hit on your hands.
  9. The Collage. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a small handful of them is, well, perhaps priceless. Take advantage of Twitter’s new mobile feature and upload up to four photos in a single tweet. Or you can use one of many good photo-editing tools available — such as the aforementioned PicMonkey — to cobble together the quintessential collage.
  10. The Selfie. Last, but certainly not least, there’s the type of visual made famous by Ellen DeGeneres at this year’s Oscars ceremony and most recently Boston Red Sox superstar David Ortiz at the White House. There’s the selfie. Thanks to these two celebrities, the ubiquity of the front-facing camera on smartphones, and people’s seemingly insatiable desire for attention, the selfie is an incredibly hot trend you don’t want to ignore.

- Sophia Bly, Senior Publicist

 

 

 

 

June 13, 2014

Meet Team ZAP: Coaster Crazy: A Not So Secret Obsession

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:00 am

Coaster Crazy

Summer typically brings out a yearning for lazy days on a street side al fresco patio, hitting the local beaches, or taking a long weekend away in the country. But for many nerds like myself, summer actually brings one of the best times of the year for none of the reasons I just mentioned.

Some would be surprised to know that I am a huge roller coaster fan, although it’s definitely not a secret. Just ask anyone at Zapwater about my lengthy description of every single coaster and ride I went on during my family’s week-long vacation to Orlando last Thanksgiving.

My love of coasters started at an early age. Raised in Ohio, I was given the opportunity to frequently visit Cedar Point, which is known for having more roller coasters than any other theme park in the world. I still recall how excited I would get the night before, often having trouble falling asleep. Throughout the years, I chose a roller coaster engineer for grade school career day and was an active member of ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts http://www.aceonline.org/). I was quick to read about the latest coasters, often drew many of my own designs, and would always insist on sitting in the front row.

And get ready coaster fans because Summer 2014 is not only bringing a crop of brand new attractions for coaster junkies, but many of them are found in the Midwest and even in Chicago’s own backyard!

Goliath (Six Flags Great America)

Right outside Chicago. this new ride is billed as the world’s fastest wooden coaster with the tallest and steepest drop. It also breaks three — count ‘em, three — world records. It has the longest drop, the steepest drop and goes faster than any other wooden coaster. It also flips riders head over heels in two inversions that could make the inevitable air-time and 180-degree zero-G roll seem kind of tame. Yes you heard me correctly, a WOODEN ROLLER COASTER THAT GOES UPSIDE DOWN. Not really sure what to think, but cannot wait to try this out. Possibly on a Zapwater Summer Friday?

Banshee (Kings Island, Ohio)

Kings Island is no Cedar Point but the park gets a much deserved honorable mention for it unique and still jaw dropping coasters. This year, they add Banshee to the roster, and like the mythological creature whose screams break glass, this new $24 million coaster with the same name is sure to terrify anyone who gets near. Banshee is billed as the longest inverted coaster in the world. And, yes, inverted means upside down. It also has a curved drop, a dive loop, a zero-G roll, a batwing, an outside loop spiral and an inline-roll.

Verruckt, Schlitterbahn (Kansas City, Kansas)

On May 23, Schlitterbahn Kansas City is unveiling a waterslide/hypercoaster that’s actually several feet taller than the legendary Niagara Falls. And while it’s illegal to mount an expedition down Niagara, these days anyone with the guts to climb the 264 stairs can make the 17-story drop on the Verruckt, which means insane in German. The new attraction will be the world’s tallest water slide.

This one may be too intense even for me!

And last but most certainly not least:

Gringotts Ride inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Orlando)

New images just released show the new addition to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter the park’s centerpiece ride will be, “Escape from Gringotts.” The ride will be a “multi-sensory, multi-dimensional experience,” which uses 4K, hi-definition media and 360-degree sets. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts will also recreate scenes from the final Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie. The expansion will be connected to the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter located at Universal’s Islands of Adventure by a Hogwarts Express-themed train.

Words cannot express how excited I am for this ride. And while I just went with my family less than a year ago I am already scheming to plan my next trip down to Orlando for this latest addition! Don’t believe me just check out the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17ySA77iRyI#t=94

- Michael Corrigan, Account Supervisor

 

 

June 12, 2014

Client Happenings: Bright Petunias, Big Apple

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 9:07 pm

As our society continues its increasing dependence on technology, we’re concurrently craving more reminders of nature. More and more, people are incorporating the elements indoors. Container gardening, fountains and earth tones are all seeing resurgences inside the home (and office). That’s why to help kick-off the summer season my client, Wave Petunias, partnered with interior designer Jeremiah Brent, to showcase the latest decorating tips and trends at a media luncheon at BLT Fish in New York City.

Brent and Wave offered easy ways that people can spice up their homes while taking advantage of the mental and physical benefits that gardening offers. Gardening is no longer limited to large outdoor spaces. People in urban areas, novice gardeners and those with small spaces can easily take advantage of gardening by leveraging easy-to-follow tips and trends. Containers, baskets and ready to plant flowers can help make everyone a gardener. Here are some of the hottest tips and trends:

  • Think “outside the container.” This year, one of the biggest gardening trends continues to be container gardening. While the use of potted flowers anywhere and everywhere is guaranteed to brighten your home or patio, Wave and Brent encourage gardeners to get creative, and stay one gorgeous step ahead of their neighbors, by using home décor ideas outside.
  • The garden has become an extension of the home. Indoors, it seems that each holiday or change in the weather calls for new seasonal décor, from centerpieces to novelties on your living rooms shelves. Don’t be afraid to take decorating elements outdoors to make that space feel homey and seasonal. Celebrate the Fourth of July by using a flag-themed basket as a place for petunias. Or, move those mini pumpkins outside in the fall and use them as a cute, festive planter.
  • Use color combinations to create different atmospheres within your space, from relaxed zen to summer celebration.  One easy way is to surround a chaise lounge with sweet white and soft pink petunias, to create the perfect space for summer catnaps.
  • Be creative, have fun, and break the rules!  While the world of interior design can feel formal with lots of rights and wrongs, Wave and Brent encourage everyone to let loose outdoors by mixing textures and patterns. People can combine almost anything in a tasteful, moderated way and make it look expensive and refined.
  • Start small –accessories and small decor items – and then work up to the big stuff – furniture and textiles. The garden is a perfect place to start experimenting because outdoors, anything goes!

We had a ton of fun brainstorming ideas with media and showcasing the fusion of flowers and design. Gardening is really for everyone and what better way to celebrate the summer than with flowers!

- Nora Sarrawi, Vice President

Photo courtesy of Wave Petunias.

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