February 2012 marks my two-year anniversary at Zapwater Communications. I’m amazed at how much we’ve grown as an agency and team. Specifically, I’ve watched our focus shift internally from being overly tactical to entirely strategic. While many believe that the two go hand-in-hand, the truth is there’s a major difference between the two.

There are two types of PR agencies - publicity houses and strategic partners. I’ve happened to work at both types of firms. Publicity houses are focused on press placements. Success is based on the quantity of placements in print, online and broadcast media. The philosophy is that if you’ve secure countless media hits the client is seeing a return on investment.

Strategic PR firms, on the other hand serve as advisors, offering clients guidance for both short-term and long-term growth. Publicity still plays a role in weekly efforts, but the approach is much different. Instead of focusing on what pitch is for the week or what press release needs to be written, the firm is actively engaged in an ongoing conversation with the client about what they need and their end goals. Tactics are only derived based on the greater vision.

I’m proud that Zapwater serves as strategic partners and advisors for our clients. Our clients continue to retain us thanks to the quality of our campaigns and strategies that are designed to move the needle of their businesses.

Jennifer Lake