THE TRUTH ABOUT FASHION PR
I feel at some point every young girl (and some young boys) have said “I want to work in Fashion PR”. It is such a loaded term. What does it really mean? We are fooled by preconceived stereotypes like the fabulous Samantha Jones from Sex and City that Fashion PR is all celebrity parties, designer clothes and pink cosmopolitans. I have been guilty of adding to this stereotype since I was 10 years old. I remember I would walk around our house in a nice pair of my mom’s heels, a feather boa and announce myself as Alexis Faye “Publicist to the Stars” (totally normal behavior for a ten year old).
That being said I was very excited when Zapwater Communications chose me to be a part of their team. Their portfolio already full with some amazing fashion brands including the launch of TopShop/TopMan in Chicago. I was even more excited when Zapwater began working with Henry & Belle a premium women’s brand based here in Chicago.
Not knowing what to expect I was quick to learn that Fashion PR is not all the glitz and glam it appears to be—not to mention it is some of the hardest work I have encountered at Zapwater. Every day there are new shipments to be sent for potential pulls in national magazines. Media alerts are written around the clock to spread the word on trunk shows and events with brand that span a nation. Websites are monitored for potential press. Events are planned. Samples are organized and reorganized as they go in and out of the office. Our team works hard to connect with celebrity stylist and major fashion editors in hopes to get their attention… and this is just the beginning.
The Zapwater Henry & Belle team is amazing. I am in constant shock during our team meetings at how they are always two steps ahead of the game. Their ideas are fresh and ever evolving and I cannot help but smile knowing that I get to come to work with some of the hardest working, creative people in the industry. I have learned more in these few short months then I have in the past 4 years.
I am excited to see the amazing things Zapwater will be doing with Henry & Belle as we move forward in the future. And though I may spend by days back and forth from UPS while typing the hundreds of tiny style numbers on in excel no one says I can’t be sipping a pink cosmo on the side!
TOP 5 THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO THIS SUMMER
I’ve never been a summer person. I know… it’s weird. You know how some people dream of white sand beaches and margaritas as their paradise? My paradise looks more like a snowy Central Park with hot chocolate. People tend to have a hard time accepting that I’m not a summer person. I remember a distinct moment in my elementary school career, while learning the months and seasons, the teacher asked us to share our favorite season. At this time I was young and innocent and didn’t realize I would be alone in my love for winter. But when I announced gleefully to the class that I loved snow and the season of winter, I was surrounded by faces looking at me like I had just screamed, “I HATE PUPPIES!”
I sometimes get those same faces today when I tell people I don’t like Chipotle.
With this said, I am happy to share that I am genuinely excited for this summer. I have a good, gut-feeling that this summer may be one of the best yet. I’m not sure where the sudden love and appreciation is coming from but I am holding onto it for dear life and am determined to soak up all this summer has to offer!
Here are a few things I’m looking forward to in the upcoming months:
1. Legends of the Summer Tour with Justin Timberlake and Jay Z
The pairing of these two men is genius. I’m also super excited that the concert will be taking place at Solider Field. A warm, July night with friends at Solider Field is the epitome of a good summer memory in the making.
2. Lakefront Biking
Anyone who knows me just laughed to themselves because I’ve sworn to take up biking on the lakefront as a daily activity for the past three summers. But THIS. IS. THE. YEAR. The first year that I decided this would be my new hobby I never got around to buying a bike ( this is an essential first step I later found out). The second year my bike was stolen two days after I bought it ( good excuse to last the rest of the summer). Then last summer I did buy another bike, just never got around to using it. But my optimism is high and this is the year! Hello lakefront path, breeze and skyline views!
I’ve been quite the bookworm since I first got my hands on The Babysitters Club series circa 1997. The past four years my love for books was on hold since I was busy with school, internships, part-time jobs and other extra curriculars. One of the best parts of being done with college is having a chance to read leisurely again. I’ve already started browsing through my neighborhood’s used book store and piling my apartment with summer night reads.
4. Dining like a Chicagoan
Chicago is one of the best cities for food. Since I was first introduced to the city as a college student, I don’t think I’ve been able to give the city and its restaurant scene the attention it deserves. This summer I want to try all the fabulous places I’m constantly hearing about and learn more about restaurants and quality food. ( I still love you, Taco Bell.)
5. Dabble in Something New
I’m a big believer in education and always pursuing new interests and ideas. I hope to spend this summer exploring something new. I would love to try out dabble.co and take a class in something different and exciting!
I hope that everyone enjoys their summer and gets to experience the things they already love, plus a few new interests as well!
WHAT DOES “EVERLASTING LOVE” MEAN TO YOU?
Wedding season is upon us and many couples are finalizing those last minute details to prepare for a milestone to remember filled with everlasting love and memories. We recently had the honor of lunching with celebrity wedding planner Mindy Weiss and she shared her top tips and trends for 2013 wedding season. Her biggest tip: protect what means most. There are so many great ways to preserve the memories created at your wedding – memories that will last a lifetime – from putting out polaroids at the wedding tables to creating your own photo album or wedding box. One way she likes to ensure memories are kept safe is encouraging clients to purchase Perfect Circle Jewelry Insurance from Jewelers Mutual. A personal jewelry insurance policy is a guaranteed way to ensure they’re protecting the symbols – the wedding and engagement rings – of their love and vows, what their wedding day really stands for.
To celebrate a Centennial milestone, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, provider of Perfect Circle® Jewelry Insurance, partnered with Mindy Weiss to put out a call for “Everlasting Love.” From April 30 – May 21, 2013, visit www.PerfectCircleInsurance.com, and share your story of everlasting love for a chance to win Erica Courtney® platinum diamond earrings worth $11,000! The winner will be announced by June 10, 2013. Enter today for your chance to win the fabulous earrings pictured below!
BEING “A BEST PLACE TO WORK”
At Zapwater, we view our employees as the cornerstone of our success and are dedicated to providing an unrivaled work experience that fosters creativity and recognizes quality, productivity, collaboration and enthusiasm.
That vision is one of the reasons that Zapwater’s employee retention is unmatched in the industry. Only one employee has left the agency in the past year and that employee moved out of state. In a very transient industry, our staff averages a tenure of over 2.5 years.
In 2013, in an effort to further invest in and develop the agency’s human capital, Zapwater launched ZapU, an ongoing professional development and team building program. Built around three off-‐site staff retreats, ZapU is an educational experience launched as a forum for employees to interact and form relationships with industry leaders, be immersed in business education, and nurture their strong leadership skills to increase their professional development. While most organizations are cutting staff, benefits and training, Zapwater continues to invest in the growth of its employees through ZapU.
When Zapwater was launched, I believed strongly that small businesses can provide world-class benefits to its employees. Zapwater pays 100% of each employee’s health and dental insurance and offers a retirement program with company match. Each employee starts with four weeks vacation and receives a fifth week if they use it volunteering. In addition, Zapwater provides numerous perks that are too many to list.
As Zapwater continues to grow, it continues to strive to be the best public relation agency to work for in the United States.
I am proud to say that our vision to make Zapwater one of the best places to work has been recognized by The Holmes Report. Every year this PR industry publication surveys employees from some of the biggest and best public relations agencies in North America to identify its Best Agencies to Work For. This year, more than 5,000 employees from 60 agencies rated their workplaces. Zapwater was named “A Best Agency to Work For 2013.”
LIFE IN THE WEST LOOP
Zapwater Communications has now called the West Loop “home” for close to 2 years and we are far from being the new kids on the block. It seems that every single day, a new, awesome place pops up in our back yard making our home, the place to be in Chicago. From food to yoga to shopping to relaxing, the West Loop continues to kill it.
This area has long been synonymous with hip, trendy restaurants complete with edgy décor and obscure menu offerings. Celebrity Chef, Stephanie Izard, has settled into the West Loop with popular small plate restaurant, Girl & the Goat, and new big hit diner, Little Goat. The brunch scene has exploded with popular mid-morning hang outs like Nellcote (complete with live DJ sets from DJ Meghan Taylor) and Au Cheval who recently earned the title of “best hamburger in America” from Bon Appetit. Those who don’t relish in “trendy” can still enjoy good eats in the form of delicious Mexican food at De Cero, or good ole’ bar food at Haymarket Brewery. For the drinkers in your group, there is no better place to cozy up in an eclectic, vintage setting and enjoy creative hand crafted libations than at Maude’s Liquor Bar or RM Champagne Salon.
To counter act the amazing eating that happens around here, there are a plethora of places to get active. The West Loop is a yogi’s haven with studios like The Lab, Barefoot Power Yoga and newly opened Core Power Yoga and other workout options such as the West Loop Athletic Club, Hubbard Street Dance and Flirty Girl Fitness. For the running enthusiast, a beautiful downtown route is just a jog away.
Many other conveniences are opening up what seems like daily in the area. Retail giant, Target, just opened a West Loop location and the Brad Pitt of grocery stores, Mariano’s Fresh Market, recently joined the family. Massage Envy and beauty retailer, Ulta, just popped up this past month and the Randolph Street Market is gaining popularity for those who like to spend their weekends browsing vintage and rare merchandise. The highly exclusive and lavish Soho House is rumored to be opening its Chicago location in the ‘hood further validating the direction the neighborhood is going. Not to mention having the home of the Bulls and the Blackhawks at the United Center blocks away, the West Loop is quickly becoming a mecca of coolness.
The way I see it, any area where I can go to work, catch a yoga class, get a fresh squeezed juice, pick up some stuff at Target, get a massage, have a meal prepared by a Top-Chef winner and catch a hockey game with the Stanley Cup Champions, all within a few blocks is the place for me. Feel free to stop by Zapwater any time and we would be happy to show you around our neighborhood!
ZAPWATER WINS BEST OF SHOW AT BULLDOG AWARDS
This week brought another first for Zapwater.
BEST OF SHOW
In addition to all of the awards our agency has been winning, we’ve just been named the best of the best.
Zapwater’s campaign on behalf of Downsize Fitness won the Grand Prize (or Best of Show) at the 2013 Bulldog Reporter awards.
What does this mean? It mean’s our campaign Downsize Fitness: Downsizing the Obesity Epidemic was judged the best of all winning campaigns in this national public relations industry awards competition.
Winners were chosen exclusively by working journalists from hundreds of entries representing the very best strategic and tactical prowess that PR/corporate communications has to offer. Campaigns were judged on a variety of factors, including the ability to achieve extraordinary visibility and influence opinion, as well as on their creativity, command of media and technology, and tenacity.
“This campaign won three Bulldog Media Relations Awards—an extraordinary achievement by any measure. But it’s no surprise when you consider Zapwater Communications Downsize Fitness campaign demonstrates all the classic qualities of outstanding public relations—solid research, brilliant creative, savvy media relations strategy, top-tier story placements and quantifiable business results. It’s every client’s dream. This is not the first time Zapwater Communications has won Bulldog Awards, so we’re not surprised at their high-level performance, but the Downsize Fitness effort was world class.” observed Bulldog Reporter publisher James Sinkinson.
Oh yeah. Zapwater also won two Gold, one Silver and one Bronze Bulldog Award. This comes on the heels of being named a finalist for six Publicity Club of Chicago Golden Trumpets. Our award-winning team has clinched 16 potential industry awards this year, 19 in 2012 and a total of 47 since 2008.
I am so proud of my team and proud of our agency. These accolades reaffirm this agency’s commitment to be the best boutique agency in the country. And I am pretty confident only bigger and better things are on the horizon.
THE FOOD BUDDHA DELIVERS
For those that follow the dining scene in Chicago, May is a hotly anticipated month. This is the time when Chicago magazine, one of the most respected publications in the city, announces their list of Best New Restaurants for the year. The trusted dining team eats at every “remotely promising contender” that opened in Chicago since last April.
Fine dining greats such as Chef Grant Achatz’s Next and Chef Art Smith’s Table Fifty Two have been a part of the esteemed list in years past. But, as the idea of what makes a restaurant one of the best evolves from white tablecloth to community table and classic to playful, so does the list itself. Out of the 73 restaurants in the running, 18 made their way on the 2013 list. One of the restaurants is in Mt. Prospect.
Chef Rodelio Aglibot’s earth + ocean Food and Drink opened in the Chicago suburb in March of 2013. It didn’t take long before city-dwellers who typically swear off the suburbs made their way in to try the eclectic menu. The buzz has been building ever since, culminating in the Chicago magazine honor.
Here’s what the critics had to say:
Food writers salivate when they hear precious restaurant names like Earth + Ocean, especially if the place has a well-known chef behind it, such as one like Rodelio Aglibot (Koi in Los Angeles, BLT in Manhattan, Sunda in Chicago). A cuisine called New American that covers the whole planet? It’s an easy target.
Turns out that Aglibot’s sleek urbanesque restaurant in Mount Prospect deserves the audacious moniker. The Hawaii native skims over his homeland for melted Maui onions, touches down in Argentina for a tender gaucho rib eye, and swims upstream for superfresh Skuna Bay salmon. It’s hard to figure where he came up with his sweet-and-spicy lollipop-style chicken wings sprinkled with Buddha dust, but then again, Aglibot calls himself the Food Buddha. Bull’s-eye.
Earth + Ocean
125 Randhurst Village Dr., Mount Prospect
Chef: Rodelio Aglibot
Perfect for: The group that can’t decide between pizza, sushi, and pork belly
Now that Chef Rodelio has conquered Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, stay tuned to see what’s next!
THE LAUNCH OF ZAPWATER UNIVERSITY (ZAPU)
David’s favorite line is “There’s something special about Zapwater.” And I knew right away what that “something special” was after I joined – it’s the team, the team dynamic and the investments Zapwater makes to continues to position the company as the go to agency of Chicago and the Midwest. Our award-winning team has clinched 16 potential industry awards this year (including two Gold SABRE Awards and a Best of Show/Grand Prize Bulldog Reporter), 19 in 2012 and a potential total of 50 since 2008.
One of my key roles at Zapwater is managing internal staff development, or basically, making sure we’re maintaining a collaborative, cohesive and productive (again, award-winning) team and truly engaging in the professional development of our employees. Specifically, as we continue to invest in human capital and the growth of our employees, I’ve been tasked with bringing David’s vision of “ZapU” – an ongoing professional development and team building program – to life.
With the onboarding of four new staff members in the past few months (a quarter of our total staff), we knew how important it was to ensure we had a solid Team Charter or set of principles in place to guide our business approach. So we launched ZapU in March with an inaugural facilitator-lead workshop at Catalyst Ranch, a multi-dimensional, off-the-wall creative landscape, with the goal to take our staff out of the office bubble and really focus on the team and team dynamic. The team-building experience was then extended through dinner with an Iron Chef-type cooking competition at The Chopping Block.
We’ll round out ZapU 2013 with two additional offsite retreats this year, including a potential ropes course in the fall. Throughout the curriculum, our staff will interact and form relationships with industry leaders, be immersed in business education and nurture our innate leadership skills to be the best PR practitioners we can be.
I am honored to play an important role in continuing to make Zapwater truly “something special.”
FROM THE KITCHEN TO THE TABLE
Did you ever wonder what it takes to get your steak from the grill to the table at a restaurant the size of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House?
The Gold Coast restaurant has 70 kitchen employees, with at least 20 of them cooking on any given night.
Crain’s gives you a peek into what it takes for you to get that perfect filet.
RING THE BELLE
Two days, 20+ media appointments, and the cutest puppy you’ll ever meet; three things that pretty much sum up our Henry & Belle Fall/Winter 2013 Press Day in NYC.
Michael Corrigan and I headed to the Big Apple to preview the premium denim line’s new collection to top editors, bloggers, stylists, and media.
Henry & Belle is a purpose driven fashion brand that’s based in Chicago. The brand begins with a love story about fashion and philanthropy. Their commitment to helping women look and feel great began in 1931 and continues today. When you choose Henry & Belle you choose to make a difference for you and your community. Henry & Belle supports community needs through partnerships with charitable organizations that raise awareness and advocate for women, children, and families in the areas of health care, education, and emotional or economic risk. Through collaborations with retails and support from consumers, Henry & Belle works to address the causes that are most important to local communities.
We split up the days into both showroom and deskside appointments based on the convenience of the media. The day started off with the fashion team from Vogue…..
…followed by Elle, Teen Vogue, Real Simple, Shape, Latina, O the Oprah Magazine, among others. We ordered baked treats and coffee for the showroom from City Bakery (think croissants, scones, and delicious muffins).
Furthermore, we added a few personalized design touches to the showroom including Jonathan Adler’s letter pillows. However, nothing could compete with Jed, B&S Showroom’s puppy and mascot – the media couldn’t get enough of him!
The Press Day was a fantastic success with countless media pulls and great conversation. We look forward a successful campaign! Thanks to everyone for coming out and we’ll see you again in fall!