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January 18, 2015

Zap Trends 2015: What’s Next in the Social Sphere?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:00 am
  1. A lot more I’s than We’s: As humanization becomes more prevalent and necessary for brands, I think we’ll see a lot more brands using I’s and my’s than we’s and our’s. Behind-the-scenes, there may still be multiple people drafting content calendars, reviewing, scheduling and interacting, but brands will focus on re-branding from a singular person’s voice/character to humanize the brand and connect with their fans. I’m personally more of a “we” girl and like brands to come off as a team, but I see a lot of brands moving in this direction.
  1. Increased Corporate Leadership and Team Member Visibility: As brands and agencies continue to humanize brands, corporate leadership will insert themselves into conversations more and more. People want to connect with the brands they follow and feel like they know the inside scoop. By humanizing and showcasing leaders and expert team members, fans will not only see the humans behind the brand, but also feel a deeper connection. Who doesn’t love a little BTS, typos and cussing?! The more authentic, honest and human, the better!
  1. Instagram Analytics: This is more of a request than a trend prediction. Instagram, you made community managers and brands thrilled when you introduced ads, and verified accounts but please, please, please do us a favor and let us all see some data. I love comparing apples to apples when it comes to performance even if the numbers vary from channel to channel; however, it drives me absolutely nuts that we can’t see how many viewers vs. doers we have on Instagram. Even if you can just show us reach, that’s totally fine. We’ll do the dirty work – a little 3rd grade math never hurt anyone. Oh and while you’re add it, integrating RG’s into the native app and being able to post from our desktops would be nice too!
  1. More Mobile Commerce: Venmo, Snapchat, what’s next? Mobile money transfers cross banks (and even credit cards) are already happening, but I see it increasing and becoming a lot more popular in 2015 and beyond. For social media platforms, it’s absolutely genius. We already know Millennials love purchasing experiences over goods. And when I buy concert tickets or go to dinner, I’m not sitting alone. I’m going with a group of friends and transferring money all over the place. We know that fans hate ads, so social platforms with mobile commerce could replace ads with a commission on money transfers (what’s 2% anyway?); however, what we’ll probably see is the use of both. Ads aren’t going away even if social platforms are finding news ways to make the mullah.
  1. More Cohesive Branding: Again, another request more than a trend. Ok, so I might be a little OCD, but I hate messy anything (my bedroom floor when I’m getting ready for a Saturday night doesn’t count), but what I hate more than anything is messy branding. In a perfect world, websites, public relations, advertising, social media and campaigns are married. And if not married, at least teammates who know what each other are doing all the time and are working with each other instead of against each other. Maybe I’m biased, but I think social media is the glue that holds the team together; however, to really work, the communication needs to go both ways. Here’s to 2015!

– Sophia Bly, Senior Publicist

January 14, 2015

Zap Trends 2015: Food Predictions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 11:09 pm

Noras 2015 Trend Blog

I wish 2015 was the final death of the moniker “foodie,” but I don’t think we’ll be so lucky. As someone with a professional background in food and beverages and a personal passion for cooking, it always amazes me how once rare ingredients end up as kitchen staples. In middle school French class, we were asked to define a typical American meal. I included rice in my answer because this was a standard in my house; unfortunately my teacher felt that the only acceptable American starch was a potato. Now, quinoa, couscous, black rice and all sorts of grains are commonplace. I was right all along.

In 2015 and forward, several factors will continue to impact our culinary landscape. The focus on health continues to take precedence; second and third generation Hispanic and Asian Americans are seeking flavor profiles that reflect their upbringing; food entrepreneurialism is on the rise with artisan companies like Chef’s Cut Jerky and easy gourmet DIY meals like Plated.

Here are a few predicted trends:

  • Coconut sugar: Coconut oil and milk have become mainstream in grocery aisles and even at coffee chains. Coconut is a popular alternative as it’s safe for people with nut allergies and many consider it to have good, satiating fats. It’s also quite tasty (but when cooking with it, it can be too strong). Given the continued increase on health, people are seeking natural sweetners with a lower glycemic index. Nielsen predicts that coconut sugar will be a hot trend for 2015. I am inclined to agree.
  • At home cooking: The rise in same day delivery services like Google delivery, Instacart and Amazon Fresh combined with millenials’ desire for more clean eating will increase people wanting to eat at home. Dinner parties are becoming more common place as people have access to ingredients and recipes once reserved for wholesale markets and coveted by chefs.
  • Local goes even more local: Big CPG companies are buying up artisan brands because they recognize that people are willing to spend more on higher quality foods with ingredients they can trust. This year, local will take the next step with people making their own grains using their vitamixes, house-purifying their water and going to local fish markets and butchers for regional proteins.
  • Heightened flavors: While people are seeking better-for-you foods, their desire for flavor isn’t going away. This, coupled with America’s increasing Asian and Hispanic population (with money to spend), will drive the trends towards spicier foods and stronger flavors. Pickling will be in and will extend beyond cucumbers to other veggies such as carrots and beets. Mixing spice with sweet will also be a trend; we’ve already started to see this with cold pressed juices incorporating ginger or cayenne. Spices that are also considered to have potential immune boosting properties such as turmeric will also be seen on plates. 2015 will move beyond Sriracha.
  • More matcha: Functional beverages are becoming too cluttered. With the array of waters to juice from flavor profiles that mimic one another, people want beverages that stand out. Less sweet drinks will become popular. Aside from mainstream varieties, people want powerhouse beverages. According to the Sterling-Rice group, matcha will become one of the year’s superfoods. It’s a powered up version of green tea that will be packaged in a consumer-friendly way.

Whatever the trends end up being, cheers to the power of food to delight, unite and nourish us.

– Nora Sarrawi, Vice President

*** Image courtesy of Love and Lemons (http://www.loveandlemons.com/)

January 8, 2015

Zap Trends 2015: I Literally Woke Up Like This

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:22 am

Last year, I predicted that 2014 would be all about simplicity in fashion. We said “sayonara” to bold patterns and prints and welcomed neutral colors with a big play on silhouette and texture. For 2015, I predict that beauty trends will take a cue from fashionistas and sway to neutral and natural looks.

Brig Trend Blog 2015_1

The Face

Maybe she’s born with it, or maybe she just spent 30 minutes in front of the mirror to make it look like she’s born with it. Regardless, it’s all about the au naturel look in 2015. A bright, dewy, well-rested face with minimal makeup is the new day-to-day uniform, whereas bold lips and sultry eyes will be strictly for nighttime (unless you are a toddler in a tiara). Instead, play up your natural features with neutral contouring and add definition by vamping up your brows and lashes.

 Brig Trend Blog 2015_2

The Nails

Perhaps the scariest trend of 2014 was the razor sharp, two inch long manicure a la Rihanna. Newsflash ladies! You aren’t Rihanna, so bid adieu to this beauty statement. In 2015, expect a scaled back almond or the barely square shape without the length or damaging effects of acrylics. Embrace your natural nail beds! Reds and pinks will always be stylish shades, but we’ll also see a large focus on naked nails (gasp!) or neutral nudes, grays and blushes. If you’re looking to add a little flair, opt for a muted metallic, sans glitter or gems.

Brig Trend Blog 2015_3

The Hair

See ya later ombre! Hello babylights! Perhaps the greatest way to give you a natural looking makeover is through a slight alteration in your hair color. **Cue the babylight** Babylights are natural looking highlights that bring back the sun-kissed color your hair held when you were younger and could spend your summer days at the pool, minus the Sun-In. This treatment brightens your hair giving it depth and dimension without looking over-processed or obvious.

The most beautiful way to kick off a New Year is being happy and healthy… but looking good doesn’t hurt either.

– Brigid Parr, Senior Publicist

December 14, 2014

Client Happenings: #HolidaySmartSwap – New, Better-for-You Recipes to Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — Zapwater Communications @ 8:42 am

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With the countdown the holidays coming to an end and the ultimate excuse to overindulge, NOW Foods (client) recently commissioned a #HolidaySmartSwap recipe challenge with some of today’s top healthy food bloggers to create “cleaner” (e.g. guiltless) versions of favorite and new recipes using a variety of NOW ingredients. While the recipes were originally created as alternatives to to traditional Thanksgiving day dishes, the menu is full of natural (mostly vegan and gluten-free) goodness for any holiday, so if you’re thinking about bringing something new to your family/friend potluck, here’s a few to inspire you:

Breakfast/Snack (perfect to snack on when preparing the menu!)

Strength & Sunshine: Festive Spiced Pecan Quinoa Granola

Vegetable/Side Dishes

Yummy Healthy Easy: Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Muffins

Slender Kitchen: Curried Cauliflower, Pomegranate and Quinoa Salad

Main Course

Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes: Winter Squash + Quinoa Rissoles

Dessert/Nightcap

Natural Sweet Recipes: Halfway Cookie Pie

Lakeshore Lady: Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup

The winner of the contest was selected by the NOW Foods Culinary Innovation team, and announced on Wednesday, Nov. 19. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes was selected and received $250 in NOW products of her choice, plus $50 in product for one of her lucky readers. Don’t let the winner sway you though, all of these recipes are amazing and worth trying this holiday season!

– Alana Horinko, Vice President

December 11, 2014

ZAP Bites: The Comprehensive History of Poutine & Where to Find It in Chicago

Filed under: Uncategorized — Zapwater Communications @ 10:15 am

Once upon a time, way back in the 1950’s, there was a young, husky Quebecker boy with a fondness for French fries. One day in a particularly cold winter, the young man decided he wanted more – his French fries as they were, were no longer enough. So he topped his French fries with some cheese curds and then added a warm layer of molasses-like gravy that would forever be a game changer in the world we live in today. Between the warmth of the fries and gravy, his creation turned into a savory delicious melted heaven. As the young Quebecker stuffed his face, his mother asked in dismay “QU’EST-CE QUE VOUS MANGEZ?” (“WHAT ARE YOU EATING?!” in English) and with his mouth full he tried to say “Poutiness” which means a dish made of potatoes, but all his mother heard was “POUTINE!”. Seriously, try it. Say Poutiness in your best French accent with your mouth stuffed full of fries and tell us it doesn’t sound like poutine. The boy’s mother tried the glorious dish and agreed it was heaven on earth and so the name stuck and ever since then our friends up North have been enjoying all the goodness that is poutine. Lucky for us, poutine made its way to Chicago.

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Via National Geographic

The lights are up, the snow is falling and with it being prime poutine eating season, I’ve compiled five Chicago spots in different neighborhoods so you can get your poutine fix to warm (and fatten) you up right in time for the holidays. Because, why not?! We can’t live in sweatpants and chunky sweaters all year long – might as well take advantage of these layers while we can! You can thank me later.

*Please note, this history of poutine is complete false, but it would be pretty great. A lot of people claim they created poutine, but what we do know is that it probably happened in Quebec in the 1905’s. Also, this list isn’t based on the best poutine, it’s strictly based on your location so you can find poutine at a location near you (and there are barely any poutine vendors South of Division).

  1. Badger Bro Poutine: Will’s Northwoods Inn (Lakeview)

Bringing the wooded-Wisconsin feel straight to Chicago, Will’s knows how to deliver cheese curds. And with that, their poutine has often been described as “cheese curd poutine goey deliciousness.” It’s a technical term.

  1. Speakeasy Poutine: Barrelhouse Flat (Lincoln Park)

Go upstairs. Now enjoy the dimly lit speakeasy while playing pool and the magical marriage that is poutine. Feeling wild? Start and/or finish your evening with Zombie cocktails and shots of Tequila 7 Leguas. You will not be disappointed…until you wake up the next morning.

  1. Squeaky Poutine: The Bad Apple (Really Far North)

Touted as Chicago’s most Canadian poutine (by a Canadian), The Bad Apple is known for their equal parts cheese curds and fries. Not sold? The cheese curds are so authentic, they squeak and there are 50+ beer options.

  1. Kinda Fancy Tourist Poutine: The Gage (The Loop)

You had me at jalapenos. And braised pork shoulder, pickled red onion, cheese curds topped with flavorful gravy. Just steps away from Millennium Park, The Gage is definitely a tourist spot, but the poutine is out of this world. It’s almost worth facing those horrendous crowds.

  1. New Poutine: Barley & Brass (Wicker Park)

An old-school cocktail bar with kegged cocktails, 15 beers on tap and short rib, malted barley risotto poutine. Amiright?

– Sophia Bly, Senior Publicist

November 26, 2014

ZAP Bites: The Best of Italy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 7:00 pm

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My husband and I recently took a trip to Italy for our anniversary. We’ve both been numerous times before so this time our goal was solely to relax, eat, drink and eat some more. Our first stop was Rome, the historic and mind-blowing city filled with ruins, piazzas and art. We spent days walking around exploring neighborhoods, drinking aperol spritzers at cafes  and visiting some of our favorite spots like the Colosseum, Roman Ruins, Pantheon, Vatican and the beautiful Piazza del Popolo. We also walked through Villa Borghese, the perfect garden where you can rent bikes, have picnics and take naps in the shade. It has a gorgeous view of the city and is a definite must see if you’re visiting.

Our second stop was Bologna, about two hours north of Rome and 30 minutes from Florence. It’s a great town that features Italy’s largest university, many historical sites and is one of the culinary capitals of the country. Bolognese sauce, tagliatelle, tortellini and beautiful pastries are among the local specialties. It’s also smack dab in the middle of an amazing food region that produces products like balsamic vinegar, prosciutti di parma and parmesan cheese. We had a private tour of one of the oldest producers of authentic balsamic vinegar and visited the beautiful towns of Modena and Parma.

A major reason we went to Italy was to eat, and boy did we eat! Rome and Bologna did not disappoint. If you’re planning a trip to Italy, here are a few of my dining recommendations:

ROME

Enoteca Ferrara – Hidden among the streets and crowds of Trastevere, this hidden gem is part wine bar and part restaurant. The space is decorated in all whites and warm neutrals and every room is more charming then the next. The menu changes weekly and focuses on traditional Italian cuisine with an incredibly expansive wine list. In fact, wines bottles are all around you and the wine cellar is visible from the restaurant through an ancient forged grating.

Taverna Trillusa – Hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I would fly there just to eat here again. Try the Ravioli Mimosa, a house specialty, Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, and if you’re there during white truffle season (as we were), then you have to order the tenderloin with fresh shaved white truffle. I have literally been dreaming about that dish since we got home.

BOLOGNA

All’Osteria Bottega – A true local spot, this tiny osteria is delicious and perfect for a cozy lunch or dinner spot. Get the Tortillini en brodo (in broth) and the classic Bolognese lasagna.

Trattoria Baraldi – This unassuming  spot had some of the best pizza we tasted in Italy. Located on the same street as our apartment rental in Bologna, we stumbled upon this gem one night looking for a late dinner….and then went back the next night to try more. Get any of the pizzas and don’t skip the tortellini in a creamy tomato sauce.

– Annie Block, Vice President

 

November 21, 2014

ZAP Bites: What’s Your Favorite Dish?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 8:38 pm

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Of all of the delicious recipes and dishes served on Thanksgiving, people tend to be fairly loyal to their favorites. I’m no different, and as a carb-loving vegetarian, Thanksgiving dinner has my name written all over it. Sure, the turkey may be the Pièce de résistance, but I’m all about the side dishes, from homemade mashed potatoes to my grandma’s Italian stuffing to green bean casserole and my all-time favorite, cheesy broccoli rice casserole. I’m not talking gourmet, farm-to-table here. I’m talking minute rice and Cheese Whiz, and I don’t even feel bad about it. So without further ado, check out the recipe for one of my many Thanksgiving guilty pleasures below.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Ingredients:

Servings: 6

  • 1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped broccoli or 1 head fresh broccoli
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)
  • 1 cup diced onion (optional)
  • 1 (8 ounce) jar Cheese Whiz or 1 cup shredded colby cheese
  • 1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup or 1 (10 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup or 1 (10 ounce) can cream of celery soup
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup instant rice, uncooked or 2 cups cooked rice
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. If using fresh broccoli cook broccoli to desired tenderness. Sauté celery and onion in a bit of butter if desired. If using cooked rice, prepare rice. This can all be done ahead of time.
  2. Mix all ingredients and pour into a greased 2 quart casserole with a lid (or cover with foil).
  3. Sprinkle additional cheese on top.
  4. Bake covered at 350ºF for 45 minutes if using uncooked minute rice, if using cooked rice bake until warm through and cheese is bubbly.

And if by chance you’re on the fancier side, some of our favorite Chicago restaurants are not only open Thanksgiving Day, but offer dine in, carry out and delivery options!

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House

Sullivan’s Steakhouse

Yum Cha Dim Sum Parlor

– Mary Doyle, Account Supervisor

November 17, 2014

ZAP Style Notes: Milk Handmade Opens at Block 37

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You may remember me writing about Block 37‘s “Search for the Next Great Pop-Up” earlier this fall. After two months of reviewing applications, in-person interviews, considering social vote and getting insights from a team of trusted advisers, Block 37 selected Milk Handmade as the first-ever winner of the contest. A boutique that primarily works with local companies and artisans, Milk Handmade is now open at Block 37 on the second floor for the holiday season (November and December).

The space is gorgeous. Basically if you have a love for hand-crafted items of all varieties — scarves, rings, t-shirts, candles, bags and more — you’ll love this shop. Milk Handmade’s owner, Hallie Borden, currently has a shop in Andersonville, but this shop really reflects the downtown shopper while staying true to Hallie’s overall aesthetic and mission. It’s also a great chance for those who live or work closer to the loop to shop the boutique, considering the Andersonville location might not be as easy to get to.

On Tuesday, November 18, you can join us for the official launch party from 6 to 8 p.m., with cupcakes and cocktails generously provided by Magnolia Bakery and Crafthouse cocktails. One lucky guest will win a $50 gift card (wish it could be me!).

But really, this place is great for holiday shopping, with clothing and accessories to shop from that will suit a variety of fashion styles. To help you spark some holiday ideas, I’m sharing five of my favorite items:

1. Equator Necklace ($80). I’m all about statement necklaces, usually in silver palettes, but there’s something about raw materials that can edge up a simple outfit. This amethyst on sterling silver chain, handmade by Ali’s Collection, can definitely help you make a statement.

2. Duffy Florals Sweatshirt ($48). I’m obsessed with this sweatshirt. Throw on a pair of converse and some black skinny jeans for an afternoon of shopping or weekend of errands, and you have an effortless Chicago look. To give you some background, the Duffy Florals were a Southside basketball team from 1935 to 1937, headed up by a local flower shop owner. This sweatshirt is screen-printed in Chicago by People’s Garment Co. Someone get me this, please!

3. Chain-Link Infinity Scarf ($48). Winter isn’t coming, it’s here, and I say, the bigger the scarf the better. Pile this scarf high with any winter coat, as it comes in a variety of colors. So much cuteness; so much warmth. Hand-crocheted in Chicago by KraeO.

4. Brass Crystal + Druzy Ring ($60). On any given day, I’m usually wearing at least three or four rings, so I wouldn’t mind adding this one to my rotating collection. These are handmade in Chicago by Therese Kuempel; broze crystals are hand cast, and each ring is one-of-a-kind increasing its unique effect.

5. Sweatshirt Dress ($99). Made in Chicago by Anna Hovet, this dress is stylish and warm – essential for Chicago winters. I’d pair it with moto boots to give it a little edge.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars to visit the shop before the end of December, or join us tomorrow from 6 to 8 p.m. for the launch event! Happy shopping!

– Stephanie Poquette, Senior Publicist

November 13, 2014

PR Buzz: The PRism Awards

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 4:56 pm

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Just a few months ago, we announced that Zapwater had opened its second office in Los Angeles.  What an exciting few months it’s been! I’m happy to report that our agency and approach have been warmly received out west. In addition to on-boarding several exciting new clients and the continued expansion of our team, our colleagues in the public relations industry have recognized our work with one of the LA PR industry’s top accolades.

I’m excited to announce that Zapwater has been named a finalist for two Public Relations Society of America – Los Angeles Chapter PRism Awards. These annual awards recognize outstanding programs and materials created by public relations professionals who work in the Greater Los Angeles area or have completed assignments for LA-based clients.

While these award-winning campaigns slightly predated our official announcement about opening an LA office, it certainly validates our decision. The awards are also proof again that Zapwater is known for delivering creative, out-of-the box ideas AND national media results within any budget.

These accolades and our agency’s growth and expansion continue to reaffirm Zapwater’s commitment to be the best boutique agency in the country. Thank you PRSA LA for such a warm welcome!

– David Zapata, President

November 8, 2014

Client Happenings: Wallenda Weekend

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:41 am

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He flew through the air with the greatest of ease! In case you have been living under a rock, earlier this month record-breaking daredevil, Nik Wallenda, risked his life to complete two daring tightrope walks in Chicago. The first was between the Marina City Towers and the Leo Burnett building, and the other between the two Marina Towers completely BLINDFOLDED. We were lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation for the walk and enjoy front row seats during the show.

We had the pleasure of working with his entire team on Friday, as the Discovery Channel hosted a press conference at Vertigo Sky Lounge atop the 26th floor of the dana hotel and spa. While the wind rattled the rooftop windows more than 100 media members attended that day (local, national and international), and we were on-site managing any client needs. There was also opportunity for us and the dana team to meet Wallenda himself, who was calm as a cucumber when asked about his risky plans.

Then, on Sunday, we had access to the press viewing section during the thrilling walk. More than 50 press outlets were onsite to capture the event, and we were able to watch the entire experience live, while simultaneously taking in the TV broadcast and the roar of the crowds below. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and we were so honored to have a small part in this incredible weekend!

– Michael Corrigan, Account Supervisor & Stephanie Reay, Senior Publicist

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