April 10, 2014

PR Buzz: Nine Habits of Highly Effective PR People

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 4:09 pm

PR News, the public relations resource for ideas, strategies and tools, recently released an article titled, “9 Habits of Highly Effective PR People.” The PR News team interviewed thousands of leaders and came up with the nine great PR habits

  1. Listen hard: don’t pretend you’re listening. Focus during key conversations and jot down what you heard, because you think you’ll remember the key takeaways but you won’t.
  2. Speak the local language: understand the lingo of the communities and markets you serve and learn their language. The nuances can make a difference in your communications campaign.
  3. Read until your eyes hurt: Always be reading something – be it a magazine article, a news item online, a fiction or non-fiction book. Reading stirs your imagination, helps you to become a better writer, and, of course, keeps you well-informed.
  4. Embrace measurement: you’ve heard that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. It’s true. Sometimes it’s tough to swallow the results, much less communicate them. Establishing reasonable metrics and evaluating regularly will allow you to pivot, improve, learn and succeed.
  5. Become a subject matter expert: Find a niche, study it, live it and become the go-to expert on that niche.
  6. Practice your math:  Knowing how to read a Profit/Loss statement, how to build and execute on a budget, how to calculate growth and decline will position you for leadership, and improve your PR initiatives.
  7. Hone your writing skills: whether it’s a finely crafted memo, a post-campaign report or an email to a colleague or client, make your writing sing. How you write is often how you’re perceived in the field of communications. You must be able to articulate your message in writing.
  8. Master your Social:  Social media is not a strategy, it’s a platform. Understand it and use it regularly but don’t let Fear of Missing Out make you an obsessive social communicator. The other “social” — communicating and networking with peers and stakeholders (preferably in person or by phone) — holds more long-term value for you as a PR leader.
  9. Be a PR advocate: Public Relations often suffers from an image problem; PR is not just about pitching to the media or bitching about the media; it’s one of the most important disciplines within an organization. Advocate for your profession.

The article goes on to categorize PR professions into three groups: ineffective, good, and great.

As the PR industry evolves and the media landscape changes, it’s vital for PR practitioners to strive for greatness. What category do you fit in? What additional habits would you add to the list?

Photo credit:

Jenn Lake, Vice President

April 2, 2014

Face It, We’re Addicted to Men’s Fashion

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

It’s no secret that I have a love affair with London. My time spent there made it easy to fall in love with the sights, sounds and beautiful accents. However, one of the biggest things I miss about that city is the attention to detail many English men take when getting dressed in the morning. There is without a doubt NOTHING sexier than a well-dressed man. Well-dressed men own the room; they walk with an air of confidence and it’s hard not to take your eyes away. So why it is that many American men still fear men’s fashion?  With current menswear designers at the height of their game, why is it that my guy friends still shy away from color? WHO DECIDED BUTTON DOWNS WHERE THE ONLY “DRESSY” SHIRT YOU COULD WEAR ON A DATE?

Thankfully, the PR gods answered my prayers. Zapwater was given the opportunity to join forces with Fashion Group International (FGI) on Tuesday, March 25 to host a Menswear Madness event at Zapwater client, Room & Board! The event consisted of a rousing discussion involving a panel of four local men’s fashion retailers, moderated by Tom Julian, Men’s Fashion Director of The Doneger Group. The four panelists included, George Vlagos from Oak Street Bootmaker, Judson Hill from Trunk Club, Noah Zagor from Meyvn, and fashion expert Ryan Beschel. The panelist touched on various men’s fashion topics from the evolution of the men’s fashion marketplace to how companies are leveraging technology to connect with the new male customer and the virtues of dressing well. Not only that, major designers latest looks were paired with furniture and accessories from Room & Board to showcase how men’s fashion can transcend past clothing and into all aspects of design. Showcasing that timeless and well-picked trends are, well, transcendent, across multiple mediums.

Here are three of my personal favorite men’s style trends for spring:

- Sportswear:  The sporty look isn’t just reserved for the gym. Make it work with windbreakers, bright colors and rugby stripes.

- 50 Shades of Blue:  The new “it” color for spring was splashed across the runways. Always in style for summer, it’s good to stock up on this classic color. Ryan Beschel hit a home run with his robin egg blue sport coat at the event. You go, Ryan!

- Florals:  Yes – florals for men. Any man with the guts to take on a floral print has the OK in my book. The print is very high fashion and might not be the best starting ground for guys getting their feet wet in the fashion water.

Alexis Lucente, Assistant Publicist

March 20, 2014

An Ode to Artchitecture in the City

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 7:51 pm

In June 2013, Zapwater started working on a new client, Forum Studio, an award-winning, full-service architecture and design firm. With offices in Chicago and St. Louis, Forum Studio has designed and delivered 100+ diverse projects in the U.S. and abroad.

When I joined the Zapwater team earlier this year, I was thrilled to learn that I’d be working on this account. While I’m not a designer by trade, I’ve always had a passion for design and a special appreciation for the architecture in this city.

One Friday afternoon B.C. (aka “before the cold”) our team took a field trip downtown to embark on one of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions: The Architectural Boat Tour.

Now, I’m going to nerd out here for a minute…I’ve lived in Chicago for 8+ years and I’ve probably been on the tour every year. There are so many things to love about the boat tour, but my favorite thing is seeing the many styles of architecture, reflecting the development of city. From the black steel, straight-lined modernist buildings, to the post-modernist and Art Deco designs, there’s truly something for everyone. Here are some of my all-time favorites:

- Trump Tower and the Wrigley Building – Trump was completed in 2009, surpassing the John Hancock as the second tallest building in Chicago. On the other hand, the Wrigley building was built in the 20’s and is reminiscent of the French renaissance style. Built almost 100 years apart, the juxtaposition of styles is pretty remarkable.

- Merchandise Mart – Originally built as a warehouse for Marshall Field and once the crown jewel of the Kennedy family portfolio, the legendary Merchandise Mart holds more office space than any structure on earth except the Pentagon.

- Boeing International Headquarters – The corporate headquarters for Boeing since 2001, the building’s design is quite unique. Due to clearance requirements of the site’s commuter rail lines, the building’s structural system uses steel trusses to support its suspended southwest corner. In layman’s terms, that means that a significant portion of the building is built on a platform that hangs in the air.

- The Jewelers’ building – a historic building in the Loop, this has become one of my favorites this year. Full disclosure: I’ve spent a lot of time here recently because it is where Forum’s office is, but remains impressive nonetheless. What’s unique about this space in particular is that the façade remains unchanged, but the interiors have been converted into a more modern configuration. And aside from being very beautiful, the building has a very unique history: the dome at the top used it was a Prohibition-era speakeasy operated by Al Capone.

Having lived in the same city for so many years, I think it’s important to continue exploring new areas to really take advantage of all the city has to offer. So, when the weather warms up and the river unfreezes, do yourself a favor and embrace this tourist attraction. I promise you won’t regret it!

Morgan Bellock, Account Director


March 14, 2014

Social Media Spotlight: Pass the Baton

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 3:15 pm

Like most PR professionals, my friends and family always seem to ask the question, “So…what exactly do you do, and what is a typical day like in PR?” Fortunately, instead of going into lengthy explanations, I can simply re-direct them to Instagram.

Meet PR Baton, a brilliant Instagram account that basically shows the world what a day in #PR looks like one photo at a time. PR pros come together in a photo relay to literally show what it takes to make it in our industry. A different PR professional or “runner” takes over the PR Baton Instagram account to document his or her day in five to seven photos. Follow the conversation with the hashtag #dayinPR.

A member of the Zapwater team will be participating soon, so be sure to follow us on Instagram at @zapwaterpr to get a glimpse into our world and follow me at @JenniferLake. I look forward to connecting with you digitally.

Jenn Lake, Vice President

March 7, 2014

The Best of Both Worlds

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 8:40 pm

I apologize for evoking memories of Hannah Montana during such a controversial time in pop culture, but I have to say that right now – as Miley once said – I get the best of both worlds. By day I am a PR intern at Zapwater Communications. I get to travel to the trendy West Loop and assist the Zapwater team on nine fantastic accounts, while learning the ins and outs of the PR industry. Every night, I spend time on the good old CTA as I commute home to Evanston, where I am currently a senior at Northwestern University.

As a Northwestern student, I absolutely value my education and I’ve been lucky enough to have taken some incredible courses at NU. But after having spent a month at Zapwater, I can confidently say that there is no way I would have learned as much as I have so far if I was sitting in class and reading a textbook this fall. At Zapwater, I am learning about media tracking, writing effective press releases and planning events not through hypothetical examples, but through hands-on work that has an actual impact.

I enjoy the fast pace of the PR industry and working on meaningful projects with visible results much more than studying for tests and writing midterm papers. I know I shouldn’t wish away my time as a college student, but at least I am excited for what’s to come if it is anything like what I have experienced so far at Zapwater.

On the other hand, I am still a student with few of the responsibilities that go along with having a “real” job. At the end of the work day I get to head back to campus where I go to football games (go ‘Cats), hang out at my sorority house, and enjoy not having as much homework as the rest of my friends do!

I would recommend taking a semester to intern at an agency to any student interested in PR. You will learn more than you can believe, and you will definitely be able to determine if it is the right industry for you. It may sound difficult to balance the demands of being a real working person with the lifestyle of a college student, but as long as you’re willing to work hard, it is definitely doable and so worth it!

Danielle Nash, Intern

March 6, 2014

Want Some Dim Sum?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 11:01 pm

There are countless perks to being a publicist; being among the first to know about the next big opening, meeting truly inspiring entrepreneurs and my personal favorite, enjoying delicious meals with great company. A few weeks ago, the Zapwater team mixed business with pleasure in the form of a strategy meeting complete with traditional dim sum.

If you’ve missed the early buzz, allow me to share the details about the next big Chicago restaurant opening (see? Job perk!). The beloved Food Buddha, Chef Rodelio Aglibot and his Intrestco business partners, Aeron Lancero and Paul Lee are here to make our food dreams come true with the opening of Yum Cha, a Dim Sum Parlor.

But before the early-April opening, plenty of work from media outreach to menu tastings (another perk!) to opening party planning, must take place. The Zapwater team prefers to start with absorbing as much information as we possibly can about the concept. For Yum Cha, this meant experiencing a traditional dim sum meal with culinary experts at Phoenix, one of the most respected restaurants in Chinatown.

Chef Rodelio did the honor of ordering for us since we were just learning the ropes of dim sum etiquette. He told us that dim sum dinning is truly an art form, from selecting your table or seat at a table to table etiquette. Combine this knowledge with Paul Lee and the Phoenix teams countless years of experience with running Chinese restaurants, and Yum Cha is sure to be a success.

After sampling a variety of dishes, including dumplings and steamed buns, it was time for dessert. I am embarrassed to say that dessert for me has always been a fortune cookie. How did I not know I was missing out on an entire world of Chinese pastries? One bite of an egg tart later and I was hooked. It’s an egg, so that means it’s appropriate for breakfast, right?

While I can’t share all of the exciting details about Yum Cha just yet, here are some tidbits to whet your appetite:

  • - Opening early April 2014
  • - 333 E. Randolph St.
  • - Lunch, dinner, carry out and delivery (happy Sunday!)
  • - Menu will highlight traditional Chinese dishes, such as Peking Duck, Chop Suey and Egg Foo Young, alongside modern dishes that showcase a playful take on the cuisine.
  • - Yum Cha is Cantonese slang for “let’s go eat dim sum”


Mary Doyle, Account Supervisor

March 1, 2014

The Polar Vortex Fashion Guide: How to Look Cool While Staying Warm

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 11:35 am

As a born and raised Midwesterner, brutal, teeth chattering winters have always been a huge part of my life. As a child, winters brought sledding, snow days and hot chocolate. As an adult, winters bring tears, heart ache, utter despair, inconvenience, terror, etc. And as a whiner throughout childhood and adulthood, most of my winters are spent constantly complaining about how cold it is.

While I sit here and shiver at my own personal pity party, I might as well look on the upside of what winter brings… a new season of fashion and a chance to revisit those winter staples I love oh so much, like chunky sweaters, oversized scarves and boots of all shapes and styles. Since I’m on such a positive streak here, I’ll mention that winter provides the opportunity to look cool and cozy, all at once!

Although personal fashion creativity tends to slightly suffer during the winter, classic everyday staples take center stage! You may be cold, miserable and severely suffering from seasonal affective disorder, but you don’t have to look it.

Here is my personal winter uniform – functional, simple and neutral… And may the force be with you for the rest of this winter.

  1. Parka: Select a neutral color. You will likely spend a fortune and a half on this piece. You want it to be cute and functional, so chose a shade that will match every item in your wardrobe.
  2. Fuzzy Hat: Go for a hat over earmuffs. A fully protected head will keep you warmer and hide that second day unwashed hair.
  3. Oversized Scarf: AN ABSOLUTE MUST during the polar vortex. (And in my personal opinion, a chunky scarf can make or break an outfit. SHOP WISELY.)
  4. Leather Pants: Leather pants will make you sweat any other time of year, but during winter, they are the most fashionable insulated pants around!
  5. Cozy Sweater: To keep you warm and to hide all of those lattes and muffins you’ve been indulging in this season.
  6. Practical Boots: Traction and waterproof are the most important words to consider when buying a pair of boots. The only thing more awkward and embarrassing than seeing someone slip on ice is being the person that slips on ice.

Brigid Parr, Senior Publicist

February 28, 2014

A Year’s Worth of Lessons

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 7:28 pm

On January 7,I celebrated my one-year anniversary with Zapwater. Transitioning from an intern position to a full-time assistant has brought a new insight to the PR industry. Below are some major takeaways:

 (Sometimes)Title Doesn’t Matter

No matter what “title” you have, you are never too important for the little jobs. I’m always amazed at the work ethic at Zapwater, and how any team member is willing to step in to help someone in need. I will never forget the day I saw an account supervisor volunteer to work the front door at an event. Her lack of hesitation to work a position below her level really spoke to the company culture at Zapwater, and its message that, above all, we’re a team!

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

I over analyze EVERYTHING! As I move into my second year at the company, my managers have taught me the importance of confidence in your work. Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes its better to just learn from your experience and move forward then dwell in the past.

Always Give 100%

Put your heart and soul in every project you do! By investing your time and talent there is no way that you can fail. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Come to work with a positive attitude and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

I’m looking forward to what this year will bring my way as I continue my journey with Zapwater. As a very famous Chicagoan once said:

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” – Oprah

Alexis Lucente, Assistant Publicist

February 20, 2014

In The (Polar) Vortex

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 12:31 am

While the days may be getting longer, winter certainly has definitely arrived. For most Americans, 2014 started off with a frosty bang. The polar vortex spared few states, even impacting places like Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina. Chicago reached a record of 16 below. It was so cold out that the lake began steaming. Hardest hit was Minneapolis which reached a brutal 23 below. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds were filled with #Chiberia and #PolarVortex.

The good news is that it’s uphill from here! However, to get you through the additional cold, dreary days ahead, here are some tips on surviving the winter doldrums.

  • Get movin’. Too cold to go outside? My colleague, Stephanie P. introduced me to BodyRockTV which has fantastic workouts that you can do from the comfort of your home. Nike Training Club, another great option, is an app that lets you custom design your workouts.
  • Bring nature to you. Studies show that plants help improve mood and productivity. Indoor friendly plants like airplants can help add cheer and color to dreary days.
  • Stay social. Post-holidays, it can be tough to motivate yourself off of the couch but fight the urge. Simple activities like a board-game night keep you in touch with friends and keep you warm.
  • Veg out. Fight the urge to overeat just because you’re bored. Load up on colorful fruits and veggies which have a host of nutritional benefits.

Try these proven tips or experiment with some of your own. Before we all know it, spring will have sprung.

- Nora Sarrawi, Vice President

** Photo credit:

February 13, 2014

Social Media Spotlight: Flipagram, Video Content and the Death of Sponsored Posts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 9:50 pm

In December, we predicted that social media would scale back to the essentials and video would become a huge part of brands and company’s 2014 social media strategies. As the end of the year approached, we were excited to see what unfolded on our social pages.

Videos are everywhere.

It’s refreshing to see that instead of trying to completely reinvent the wheel again, social media teams, app developers and the big guys behind our favorite platforms are realizing the power of an old standby.  There have been a lot of new developments on this front, and it’s allowing brands to explore how they create and use content in this format. Whether their navigating the newest app, working with slow motion capabilities, adhering to the 15-second time limit or something else, we’re only a month into the new year and there have been some fantastic video offerings out there.

We’re personally enjoying Flipagram, which re-launched in November 2013 with new functionality (all for the better!). Scrapbookers and kids with a love for creating nostalgic recaps of their high school sports team know the formula: take your favorite photos, add some music, put them into motion, and presto, a pretty great recap of the highlights from a major event or time period. The app saw a spike in downloads and use – becoming the top free app for the last week in December – for 2013 end of the year recaps (you know you probably did one, or at least thought about it!). Now that we’ve been exposed to the app, we can come to expect a lot more. Recaps of events, highlights of a spring runway or collection, your weekend food outings and more, all accompanied by your favorite hits at the moment. Read more at Apps Worth Downloading: Flipagram

Disclaimer: Remember to choose your song choices wisely, no one wants to look back at those memories and have Justin Bieber (who you just absolutely loved in that moment) mumbling his way through a track in the background.

The best part about all of this, it comes at a time when some of your favorite sites are making big changes. Facebook recently just announced that they will be doing away with Sponsored Posts/Stories after some privacy complaints and one big lawsuit. (Facebook to Sunset Sponsored Stores by  April) The Facebook team’s solution for brands and social media pros? Be creative and engaging with the content that you’re posting on Facebook to drive more traffic to your page…. Thanks a heap for those words of wisdom, FB.

As we stressed in our end of the year blog, now more than ever, it will be critical for brands to know who they are and to own it. For their social media team to think big, while keeping content focused on the Fantastic Five (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube). We know, you know…and now we sound like the team at FB. But, what can we say, with less promotional tools or fan hatred for the ones that are still out there (Instagram ads, anyone? Which we all know are basically Sponsored Stories on a different Facebook-owned platform), we’re excited to see what brands come up with and how they use video, the newest apps, and site add-ons to their benefit. Word of mouth is totally back.

Happy 2014 and happy social media planning! Share any cool content ideas or apps you’re loving with our team on Twitter! DO IT

- Stephanie Poquette, Senior Publicist

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