August 29, 2014

Client Happenings: Virgin Hotels Wants to Know What Have You Heard…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 5:37 pm

Sometimes, rumors aren’t always a bad thing. Especially when they involve one of the biggest brand launches Chicago has seen.

If you heard the rumor that Zapwater is working with Virgin Hotels to launch the first-ever location right here in Chicago, it’s true. Our team has been working with some of the smartest and most creative people in the industry, planning fun and exciting ways to introduce the brand to the world.

If you heard that the faucets at the hotel will have three settings: hot, cold and champagne, I cannot confirm or deny that. But as a fan of Champs, I can say I’m pushing to make that a reality.

If you heard the showers sing to you, I also can neither confirm nor deny that. But I hope that one is not true– the shower is MY voices time to shine!

Have you heard the Do Not Disturb sign has been removed from the Virgin Hotels website? That one is 100% true. So if you’re in the mood to stir the pot a little bit this week, Virgin wants to give you something to talk about. Head on over to the website to find out more about the upcoming opening and share some of your favorite rumors for a chance to win some pretty great stuff.

And don’t forget to follow Zapwater’s social media channels for all Virgin Hotels Chicago news!

- Mary Doyle, Account Supervisor

August 27, 2014

ZAP Wanderlust: The Places PR Will Take You

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:45 am

Some kids are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. I was not one of them. My parents like to say that I was born with a Samsonite carry-on in-hand.

I am an airline brat. My dad spent his career with Pan Am and Delta.

In fact, my office at Zapwater is adorned with Pam Am nostalgia.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had the travel bug.  One of the benefits of being an airline brat is the free travel. Unfortunately, those perks still don’t exist, and I actually have to buy my plane tickets now. Traveling with my dad in my youth lit something in me that continues to burn today.

Travel is in my blood. My grandfather proudly used to tell stories of his travels to all seven continents.

I’ve been lucky enough to climb the ruins of Tikal, Guatemala, Machu Picchu, Peru and Angkor Watt, Cambodia.  I’ve worked at an orphanage in Russia and on a Coffee Cooperative in Nicaragua. I’ve canoed in the Amazon, road the rooftop of a train across the Andes, climbed Cotapaxi and hiked up Angel Falls. I’ve even studied comparative revolutions in Havana, Cuba.

Maybe that’s why I love travel clients. Long-time hotel clients like the dana hotel and spa or projects from global airlines like Hainan Airlines always have a special place in my heart.

Even though we’re a boutique agency, you’d be surprised the places PR will take you. Through our membership in the global agency network, Travel Lifestyle Network, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Copenhagen and Dublin throughout the past few years. I’m especially excited for next year’s meeting in Luxembourg. In October, I’ll also be traveling to Singapore to represent TLN at ITB Asia. To say I’m excited would be a little bit of an understatement.

And where else I am headed?  I’m working on putting together a trip to Haiti. More on that to follow.

Cheers to passport stamps and travel adventures!

- David Zapata, President

August 22, 2014

Client Happenings: Old Style Pays Tribute to Chicago’s Heroes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 3:20 pm


Firefighters have always held a special place in my heart. Growing up on the West side of Cleveland many of my closest friend’s parents were second or third generation firefighters. We witnessed firsthand how they regularly put their lives on the line for the community. These brave men and women weren’t just the unknown face of a hero, they were our family. Our high school group also shares many fond memories of visiting the stations downtown and taking the fire boat out on the Cuyahoga River so we could listen to an evening summer concert.

Imagine my joy when Zapwater client, Old Style, the beer famously known as “Chicago’s beer since 1902,” decided to honor the dedication, lives and risks taken by Chicago’s Bravest with the launch of a Chicago Heroes commemorative can. The sales from these cans, which will become an instant collectable for Chicagoans and Old Style enthusiasts, alike, benefit the Ende, Menzer, Walsh and Quinn (EMWQ) Retirees’, Widows’ and Children’s Assistance Fund, a local organization which provides financial assistance annually to the neediest widows and orphans of members of the Chicago Fire Department.

EMWQ Retirees’, Widows’ and Children’s Assistance Fund works each year to identify the families and children most in need of monetary donations. The organization also provides immediate assistance to the children of an active member who passed away in the line of duty or off duty. A 22-year-old organization, the EMWQ Assistance Fund has provided more than $10 million dollars in assistance over the years through the generous support of active and retired firefighters and paramedics, the community, an annual charity softball event and more.

To celebrate the can’s launch, Zapwater hopped a ride on the Old Style branded fire truck (also playing bodyguard over the beer so it didn’t fly out the back) this Saturday, and helped the team deliver the new cans to several hundred local firefighters and their families at the 5th District CFD Softball Tournament.

Upon arrival, we had the chance to chat with some key members within the firefighter network and community. Many took several cans for personal collections and to share with others who weren’t on site. Many devoted Old Style fans were thrilled about the branded content and brought others over to the tent to learn more. Whenever our team has the opportunity to combine our work with a cause close to our hearts, it’s a reason to celebrate. Being able to work on this project will be one that I don’t soon forget.

To learn how you can get involved and more about the EMWQ organization, visit:

- Michael Corrigan, Account Supervisor

August 20, 2014

Client Happenings: Street Art Takes Chicago During Lolla

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 9:08 pm

Lollapalooza is known to the masses as a weekend of music and outdoor entertainment. It’s one of my favorite weekends each year…I love any opportunity to get out and enjoy the Chicago summer, and I know I’ll leave with a few new bands to follow. But, this year the event took it a step further adding an artistic element.

So, when I heard Shepard Fairey announced that he would be curating an art show to coincide with the events of the music festival, I knew I had to see it. Like many, I knew of Shepard Fairey as the artist behind the infamous Obama Hope poster, but I had no idea the extent of his talent until witnessing it firsthand.

And he definitely did not disappoint. In one of the largest art shows ever done, the show featured innovators in the art world showcasing their work together for the first time under one roof. Entitled “Art Alliance: The Provocateurs,” the show featured everything from street art to pop/political art, and even installations and sculpture all inside a very cool loft space inside Block 37.

Full disclosure, Block 37 is a client of ours at Zapwater, but regardless, it was one of the coolest events I’ve been to in a while. For those who missed it, there is some good news: as part of the show, four murals were painted on Chicago buildings that will remain on permanent display. Chicago is known for its burgeoning arts community, and it’s very cool to see the city embrace something of this scope.

Until next year….

- Morgan Bellock, Account Director

August 9, 2014

Client Happenings: Simply Stylist

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:09 am

On Saturday, July 26, Simply Stylist, returned to the dana hotel and spa in Chicago. This is one of my favorite events, so it was a joy to work with their team for the second year in a row. Founder Sarah Boyd established the conference to inspire those with a passion for all things fashion and beauty. It’s the perfect event for those interested in starting a blog, wanting to be a celebrity stylist and fashion enthusiasts in general.

The day started with a networking brunch at freestyle food + drink where Lauren Gores of Lauren’s Lyst delivered a great keynote speech. After the brunch, attendees headed up to Vertigo Sky Lounge for a two-hour panel session, featuring insight from top industry experts. Hosted by E! News Correspondent, Catt Sadler, the panel included Stephanie Mark (Co-founder of The Coveteur), Wendy Nguyen (Wendy’s Lookbook), Annie Finch (Founder of Katherine Cosmetics) and Allie Cooke (CS Magazine).

Following the panel portion of the event, attendees had the opportunity to meet the panelists and enjoy a shopping event on the hotel’s 5th floor.

It’s so exciting to come together to get an inside look at the fashion and beauty industries. I always leave feeling incredibly inspired by both the attendees and speakers and I am already anticipating Simply Stylist 2015.

- Stephanie Reay, Senior Publicist

August 6, 2014

Client Happenings: Kiehl’s Pushes the Pedal to Find a Cure

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 8:29 pm

Guys on motorcycles and beauty products all in the name of charity; I’m down.

On Monday, August 4, Kiehl’s, the renowned hair and skin care line, rolled through Chicago to celebrate the brand’s 5th Annual LifeRide for amfAR, a multi-day, multi-stop motorcycle tour of the U.S. to help support AIDS research. An event complete with motorcycles, delectable bites from Lillie’s Q, celebs and proclamation from the mayor, Kiehl’s Bikes + BBQ Bash was a great way to kick off the tour, which started in Milwaukee with the team making their way to New York. The Chicago team included Kiehl’s President Chris Salgardo; Ben Cohen, World Cup Rugby winner, Gilles Marini from “Switched at Birth”; Teddy Sears from “Masters of Sex”; Malcolm-Jamal Warner from “Sons of Anarachy”; Jesse Lee Soffer from “Chicago P.D.” and more.

But what would this motorcycle tour be without a great cause? Aside from their outstanding hair and skin care products, Kiehl’s has famously been known for the brand’s ongoing and significant contribution to three charity pillars: HIV/AIDS education, prevention and research; protecting and nurturing the environment; and children’s well-being. LifeRide is no exception, with Salgardo and his fellow friends and celebrity riders, touring the U.S. to bring awareness to the need for AIDS research and funding by supporting amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.

In the past five years, Kiehl’s has made astonishing contributions toward amfAR, helping raise $1,025,000 to fund six cure-related research projects. I mean, that’s HUGE! Even though the Chicago event is over, those who are interested in supporting amfAR can help in a variety of ways. Head to the Kiehl’s website to purchase a Limited Edition Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, a jumbo size of the company’s classic formula, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward the organization (up to $25,000) — this stuff is bomb.

Don’t follow Kiehl’s on Twitter? For every new follower, they’ll donate $1 to amfAR (up to $15,000), and for everyone who uses the hashtags #HandsOn #Contest, they’ll donate $1 for every participant. Full details about ways to get involved, the stop and riders, and rules on social content are included at:

The Chicago event was an amazing way to remind customers, media and entice new brand followers about the importance of supporting charities like amfAR. We’re happy that so many people were able to join us, and here’s wishing the team a successful ride in 2014!

- Stephanie Poquette, Senior Publicist

July 31, 2014

ZAP Bites: Farm-to-Table with Burpee

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 7:50 pm

In the peak of harvest, now is a better time than ever to get in on one of our favorite cuisines: farm-to-table. We recently worked with one of our clients Burpee Home Gardens on two delicious events which had us coming back for more fresh veggies.

Our first event took place in Vancouver at the lovely Fable Kitchen where we worked with Burpee Home Gardens to showcase how anyone can grow vegetables (even small spaces!). Chef Trevor Bird demonstrated how to use fresh vegetables in your meals while Kathy Schleyer served up some amazing cocktails using fresh strawberries. The two specialize in sourcing local product and delivering great flavors and even shared a few of their secrets with us so we could get in on the action too.

Next up, we worked with Burpee Home Gardens to donate vegetable plants to The Urban Canopy community farm located in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Founder Alex Poltorak and his organization are committed to the belief that the urban agriculture movement can help to create a more sustainable and equitable food system by selling their vegetables to local restaurants and farms markets. We had an awesome day getting our hands dirty planting and harvesting vegetables. We literally ate the vegetables fresh out of the ground and they were delectable!

If you don’t have a home garden and aren’t able to grow your own veggies, Chicago provides some awesome alternatives. First off, many farmers markers in Chicago go through October so you can make farm-to-table cuisine in your own home. Otherwise, the farm-to-table restaurant scene is blowing up in Chicago. Choose Chicago reported on a few of their fave farm-to-table restaurants and we can’t wait to make our way through this delicious list!

- Sophia Bly, Senior Publicist


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)



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 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

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