Shawn Nesaw

2 min read

By Ben Ford


On a hot summer morning in late July, at Fort Detrick, Maryland, the generals inspected the assembled troops, standing in formation.

A distant siren faded. Except for the buzz of insects and jets high overhead, silence had fallen over Blue and Gray Field where the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s (USAMRMC) Change of Command ceremony took place.

The ceremony had reached a stage rife with tradition and symbolism. Command Sgt. Maj. David M. Rogers presented the command’s colors to outgoing commander Maj. Gen. Brian C. Lein. With a deliberate turn, Lein passed the colors to his superior Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West, the U.S. Army Surgeon General, who held it firmly in her hands. With precision, she turned and gave the colors to Maj. Gen. Barbara R. Holcomb, who took it firmly with her hands. Holcomb turned on her heel and passed the colors back to Rogers.28704086895_8b8214aeb9_z

The ceremony marked the start of a new commander while it paid homage to the continuity of the command. As the generals marched in line back to the reviewing stand, a slight smile of pride crossed Holcomb’s face as she passed her family and friends. The USAMRMC is a command filled with dedicated military and civilian researchers who strive to carry out the mission priorities of “Protect, Project, Sustain.” From researching new battlefield medical techniques and equipment to fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, USAMRMC is at the forefront of providing medical care to those who serve the Nation and the world.

Holcomb, Lein, West and the Soldiers who passed in review take great pride, and rightly so, in their work for USAMRMC. As an agency that provides contract support to the organization, A. Bright Idea assists the command’s public affairs office in a variety of ways, offering writing support for technical articles and speeches, as well as photography support and graphic design.


While ABI’s purple flag did not fly at the ceremony, our ‘Bright Lights” always feel a sense of pride knowing we provide assistance to those carrying out such important, lifesaving missions for the people of our country and around the world.


If you have something to add to this story, share it in the comment section below!


Photos by Crystal Maynard, USAMRMC Public Affairs




Ben Ford writes for A. Bright Idea covering government and healthcare industries. He began his career in journalism working as a writer and later editor of several news publications. He has won numerous awards for his writing from the Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association.

Twitter_Logo_White_On_Blue @Ben_abrightidea






Shawn Nesaw


If you haven’t already noticed, live streaming video is becoming a popular feature throughout most social media platforms. If you watch carefully on Facebook, Twitter, or even TV, you’ll see evidence that live streaming is THE way brands are reaching millennials and is an increasingly common way for people to share important life events with their family and friends.

This blog is the first of a three part series focused on live streaming video, specifically Periscope. We’ll discuss the rise of live streaming on social media, how to use live streaming video apps most effectively for personal and business use and take a look at how live streaming is used in crisis communication efforts.


Periscope pioneered the idea of sharing in-the-moment video through a social platform. It was then acquired by Twitter and launched in March 2015. Two months later, Meerkat, a live streaming competitor, released its live streaming app and for the next year, the two led the social sphere in providing live streaming capabilities online. Less than one year later, Facebook launched its Facebook Live feature and continues to see success in the market by providing a live streaming feature in its own way. To recap, in just over one year, live streaming video became the “next big thing” and since then, everyone is trying to catch up and figure out how to utilize the newest, driving force in social media marketing.


Meerkat, Periscope, Facebook


These three live streaming video platforms, Meerkat, Periscope and Facebook, all take advantage of one thing most of us carry with us every day, mobile devices. People keep their phones or tablets with them all the time, which allows anyone to broadcast anything, anytime, from anywhere. While there’s certainly still a place for edited, quality video; unedited, raw video is becoming more popular by the day – not only for the individual user but for brands as well.

If you’re not on the bandwagon yet, no worries – live streaming video is still catching on. For the majority of people, Facebook remains the go-to for social media. Sharing on Facebook is a pretty normal part of life these days. Live video on the other hand is something completely different. Questions we often hear regarding Periscope or Facebook Live video usually sound something like: “Why share?” “How do you decide what to share?” or simply, “How did you do that?” As communicators, we’re always looking to utilize the newest and most progressive technology to share our message and we know live video can be simple, fun and effective.

Recently, A. Bright Idea started using Periscope to engage our audience as well as our own team, allowing everyone to experience our culture, whether it’s a creative brainstorm or an after work event. What we’ve noticed is this: there are a lot of untapped audiences out there who might not understand what live video is or how it can be helpful. We plan to shed some light on that and more in this series. Next up in this blog series, we’ll share what we’ve learned from using Periscope and some tips for using a live streaming platform effectively to benefit communication efforts to further engage an audience.

If you have something to add to this story, share it in the comment section below!

Eric Bach

The light bulb. It’s synonymous with creativity, ideas and innovation. If you haven’t noticed, we are infatuated with these inspirational glass orbs of light. Each employee has an original, personalized light bulb icon. In fact, when a new “light” joins the team their first assignment is to determine what their light bulb will represent about them. It’s a process that demonstrates our approach at A. Bright Idea — a true, first collaboration with other members of the team.

When creating these icons, the challenge is figuring out how to communicate someone’s interest or expertise within the limitations of a light bulb.  As with any logo or icon project, the goal is to create a clear, simple and recognizable graphic reproducible at any size.

The process starts with concept sketching. Whether it is on a Wacom tablet or hand drawn in a notebook, sketching allows us to toss around a lot of ideas to see what sticks. Oftentimes eliminating what doesn’t work, ends up contributing to the discovery of a successful concept. After the team has discussed and decided on an option, it’s time to take the concept digital.

Sketch book

We begin by importing the sketched image into Adobe Illustrator; this serves as reference for the final icon. Next we roughly trace the hand drawn image with the pen tool, allowing us to have a rough editable form to refine. Once the rough form is captured, we refine the illustration by creating/manipulating editable line paths, followed by applying separate layers of color for shading and highlights. Keeping the lines editable and layers labeled, keeps us organized and makes changes efficient. Since all of A. Bright Idea’s icons are one color, we must rely on applying tints in order to create a sense of dimension.  After the working vector icons are reviewed and approved, it’s time to prep and export the files for use in print and multimedia applications.

We hope you enjoyed this spotlight on our team light bulb icons! Take a look at these lightbulbs and try to guess who’s is who’s.


BEHIND THE SCENES: The Light Bulb Icon


As a creative agency, A. Bright Idea has always employed an environment that promotes ingenuity grounded in strategic thinking. Anyone who knows A. Bright Idea knows the process involves bringing in members of creative teams to contribute on any and every project. It’s a common approach expressed when meeting with new clients and in discussing the agency’s core values, but how to demonstrate this visually?

The agency unveiled the A. Bright Idea Hive, with its soft walls and simple distinction of visual and verbal teams. The Hive showcases the collaboration between the two components essential to a good communication strategy – the visual and verbal. There is a constant need to cross among the two to create the best solutions to any communication challenge. It’s the foundational approach for A. Bright Idea, now communicated visually for those familiar or unfamiliar with the agency to gain a better understanding of its philosophy of considering all elements for good communication. The Hive also details the specific work site locations of team members, whether east or west coast, as well as provides information regarding the unique circumstances for several staff members, who provide on-site contract support for government clients.

Since 1996, A. Bright Idea has provided award-winning service to a diverse client base through a unique strategy, developing creative and effective communications focused on the comprehensive needs for each organization. The agency employed smart and strategic growth over the years – from the beginning with one sole practitioner, to the now bustling team of 37 professionals offering the benefit of multi-disciplined talent. The team, comprised of diverse backgrounds, promotes this “culture of collaboration” among its experts in each sector: marketing, advertising, public relations, graphics and web design.

As A. Bright Idea continues to grow and evolve, the agency announced elevated roles for many team members to help guide this innovative structure. Below you will find a complete list of promotions within the organization:


Cobey Dietrich

Over the 10 luminous years Cobey has been part of the team, A. Bright Idea has proudly flourished, due in part to her leadership, commitment and dedication. Now, with her advancement to the position of executive vice president of verbal and visual communications, Cobey serves as the central point between the dynamic A. Bright Idea teams. Previously vice president of advertising and PR, Cobey creates strategic communications solutions for both commercial and government clients. Her firm grasp on planning, branding and managing will be a continued asset to the entire A. Bright Idea team.

Melissa Mauldin

A. Bright Idea celebrates Melissa Mauldin’s promotion to vice president of verbal communications. Previously, as director of advertising and PR, Melissa provided leadership to the team, delivering discerning marketing guidance to clients in developing campaigns, product promotions, brand collateral and strategic planning and outreach. Since joining A. Bright Idea in 2008, Melissa’s enthusiasm and commitment has served as the catalyst for the verbal team, delivering effective marketing solutions across a wide array of clientele. Her promotion means sustained leadership excellence and a continued exhibition of attentiveness and creativity that is sure to illuminate A. Bright Idea.

Katie MacNichol

To assist in providing leadership to the verbal team, Katie MacNichol advances to director of advertising. Since joining the A. Bright Idea team in 2008, Katie MacNichol has provided model advertising, marketing and strategic planning support to the verbal team. In her roles as marketing specialist and, most recently, assistant director of advertising and PR, Katie’s strategic mindset allowed for expert planning and management of various commercial and government projects. As director of advertising, Katie oversees all media planning and placement efforts, working directly with the visual team on creative development. Katie holds a Master of Arts in Strategic Communications from Johns Hopkins University.

Teri O’Neal

Teri O’Neal provides leadership for A. Bright Idea’s PR efforts as the new director of public relations and serves as the team lead for the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity’s Recovered Chemical Materiel Directorate (RCMD). In 2014, Teri joined A. Bright Idea as a senior communications specialist and public affairs manager, affording the team expert knowledge in crisis communications, media relations and community engagement. Now, in her position as director of PR/RCMD team lead, Teri will spearhead all outreach programs, as well as continue her exemplary work for A. Bright Idea’s longstanding government work and RCMD connection.

Brian Lobsinger

A. Bright Idea is pleased to announce Brian Lobsinger’s advancement to director of visual communications for West Coast operations. Brian’s unique, multidisciplinary perspective has served as an asset to the A. Bright Idea team since joining the agency in January 2015. His promotion means a sustained focus on inspired design, strategic web development and enhanced user experience. Prior to joining A. Bright Idea, Brian ran his own design firm, and most recently, was the senior web developer at Flannel, Inc.

Lisa Condon

Lisa Condon’s leadership has been a driving factor in mentoring A. Bright Idea’s award-winning design team. Her aptitude for print design, page layout, brand development and project management for environmental design and displays, allows her to excel above client expectations. A true asset to A. Bright Idea and its clients, Lisa will continue to lead, now serving as director of visual communications for the firm’s East Coast operations.

Meg O’Hara

A. Bright idea is proud to announce Meg O’Hara’s promotion to communications specialist. Since joining the team in 2014, Meg has positively supported A. Bright Idea, making significant contributions to the agency through her creative problem-solving and project management abilities. Her social media expertise, coupled with her passion for providing creative solutions, has offered clients dedicated planning, media relations and strategic advertising campaigns.

Eric Bach

Eric Bach continues his exceptional work at A. Bright Idea in his promotion to multimedia specialist/video production team lead. Eric graduated from Stevenson University with a bachelor’s degree in visual communication design, and in 2010, joined the A. Bright Idea team to deliver stunning multimedia creative for the benefit of government and commercial clients. As multimedia specialist, Eric provides print design, photography, video production and editing, animation, custom illustrations and interactive creative solutions for compelling marketing and advertising campaigns.

Robyn Hicks

A. Bright Idea congratulates Robyn Hicks in her promotion to graphic design specialist. After graduating from Towson University with a bachelor’s degree in digital fine arts and design, Robyn joined A. Bright Idea in 2015 as an integral part of the visual communications team. In her new role, Robyn provides A. Bright Idea’s commercial and government clients with inspired design solutions to meet their specific campaign objectives.


Shawn Nesaw

Business owners are increasingly looking to the Internet for spreading brand awareness, boosting sales and optimizing performance. As a business owner, you’ve likely explored many different digital marketing approaches including social media, online advertising and email newsletters.

But what about SEO?

For many businesses, and especially small businesses with limited resources, the idea of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often a completely foreign one, one requiring time that doesn’t exist. Ignoring this key component, however, could cost you a large percentage of web traffic and a lacking digital presence against competitors.

Traffic drives a website.

So, how do searches work?

Considering all the options available to us via the Internet, it’s no wonder most turn to a search engine to help find reliable information most applicable to the question at hand. And while it might seem like those instantaneous search engine results appear through some magical process, it’s really algorithms, or long mathematical formulas, that dictate what information displays. So when you press the “search” button in your search engine of choice, that engine then filters a mammoth amount of material and presents it to you based on quality and popularity of content.


So, how do you make your website relevant in filtered search results?

Basically – you have to make the search engines see your value and specifically what value you give to viewers. This relevancy and value depends largely on your website’s content and the effective use of keyword phrases. That means make sure your website’s functionality runs smoothly, using compelling content, and a backend with descriptive meta-tags, or content descriptors that accurately portray your products or services. And don’t forget to make sure your site considers “mobile first” – meaning, the design responds and adapts to the size of the viewers screen. Believe it or not, search engines give higher relevance to sites that integrate these elements into their site. See, it pays off!

Another tip – shared links will boost your popularity, and popularity is a key factor considered by search engines. Make sure your website has a clear message and that it’s geared towards helping visitors answer their questions. In turn, consumers will start sharing your website’s content. Establishing trust and consistency in your online business practices will lead to more shares and more website traction. As the site gains traction, it’ll begin to rank higher in a list of search results. Think of it as the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising.

Put website visitors first.

A well polished website cognizant of its purpose is sure to get on a search engine’s radar. Why? Because, when you put website visitors first, you’re proving your value and to search engines that’s bound to naturally increase your SEO. If you think about it, SEO isn’t much different from any other effort to improve user/audience experience. Keep your website up-to-date, consistent with branding, and teeming with well-written linkable material, and SEO will become an organic digital way to enhance your business.


With a continual focus of adding top talent to our award-winning team, A. Bright Idea is excited to announce the addition and promotion of our new team members to support the creative communication needs of our clients.


Top from left: Kevin Hess, Crystal Maynard, Robyn Hicks; Center from left: Brian Lobsinger, Luz Esmeralda Mahecha Martínez; Bottom from left: Bridget Goldsmith, Mina Ta


Mina Ta

A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR is pleased to announce the promotion of Mina Ta to a senior creative position. Mina, who joined A. Bright Idea in November 2013, demonstrated strength and leadership in providing on-site creative support for an Arlington, Virginia-based government client.


Bridget Goldsmith

Bridget joins A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR as part of a team of graphic designers supporting a government client in Arlington, Virginia. Bridget held previous positions as a contractor for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the NAVSEA Ship Building Program at the U.S. Navy Yard. Prior to joining A. Bright Idea, Bridget worked as a graphic designer for the U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Public Affairs at the U.S. Pentagon where she developed the overall branding for the nation’s highest medal for valor, the United States Army Medal of Honor.


Brian Lobsinger, Senior Designer/Multimedia Specialist

A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR welcomed Brian Lobsinger to the Graphic Design team, as senior designer and multimedia manager. Brian is charged with managing design and web projects in both the Sonoma, California and Bel Air, Maryland offices. Prior to A. Bright Idea, Brian ran his own design firm, and most recently was the senior web developer at Flannel, Inc.


Crystal Maynard, Communications Specialist

Crystal Maynard joins A. Bright Idea’s Government Services Division, offering on-site support for a government client in managing a variety of communication and public affairs projects. Crystal offers extensive communications experience, previously serving as a public affairs specialist to U.S. Army clients, providing strategic planning, media relations, event planning and public relations support.


Luz Esmeralda Mahecha Martínez, Bilingual Communications Specialist

Luz joins A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR in the Government Services Division, providing on-site communications and translation support for the Public Information office of an existing government client. Prior to joining A. Bright Idea, Luz worked with the University of Maryland School of Public Health and Miami Dade College School of Continuing Education and Professional Development.


Kevin Hess, Communications Event Specialist

Kevin Hess joined A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR to support marketing and event coordination efforts for the firm’s government and commercial clients. Kevin joins this award-winning team offering event planning and management experience from the Sports Information Office at Towson University.


Robyn Hicks, Junior Graphic Design Specialist

Robyn Hicks recently joined award-winning Graphic Design team at A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR. Robyn, a Towson University graduate with a degree in digital fine arts and design, previously worked with the Harford County Boys and Girls Club as a graphic designer.


Cari Ashkin

By: Maddie BrightmanGadgets

In our world of creativity and innovation, our bright lights rely on a number of gadgets to bring the ideas into reality. While some prefer the traditional tools, others show their love for unconventional and modern devices. We surveyed members of the A. Bright Idea team and present some of their favorite contraptions.


Teri Kranefeld, Senior Communications Specialist & Public Affairs Manager: The Purple A. Bright Idea Pen

Like her fellow marketing colleagues, Teri loves the simple, but necessary purple A. Bright Idea pen. You can find any A. Bright Idea team member with this trusty sidekick attached to a spiral notebook. Teri uses her purple pen for editing the old fashioned way and adding a little purple to everything!

Rob Jeffers, Interactive Programmer: Lava Lamp

It is no secret that we love lights, lamps and light bulbs! Rob has the opportunity to use some of A. Bright Idea’s most interesting gadgets, however he loves his desk’s lava lamp the most. Perfectly branded for A. Bright Idea, this lava lamp has purple water and a silver base and helps keep the creative juices flowing!

Eric Bach, Multimedia Specialist and Designer: Wacom Cintiq Tablet

This gadget is so loved, we have multiple! This tablet allows for a seamless transition from sketching to refinement. Eric finds this tool helpful with digital painting, storyboarding and photo manipulation. Perfect for adding a fine art touch to any project, our Graphics team uses it for custom type, hand lettering, exhibit-models and logo designs.

Wacom Cintiq Tablet

Lissa Tilley, Executive Assistant: The Master iPad

Lissa Tilley can often be found carrying the brain of the office, the master iPad. With this iPad Lissa is able to control all of the music and televisions in the office, and can even create welcome screens to greet clients. When we need a late afternoon pickup and change in the tunes, Lissa and the master iPad are our go-to!

T.J. Brightman, Vice President of Client Relations: Recording Studio

With a degree in broadcasting and history in radio, T.J. was the momentum behind developing our on-site recording studio. Customized with purple and silver soundproofing foam, it’s ideal for recording radio spots and various voiceover projects. You can often find Eric in the “bat cave,” otherwise known as the editing suite, working on video projects and perfecting our clients’ latest commercials.



Jura Capresso Coffee Maker:

It is no secret that our team enjoys a little caffeine boost. Our multiple Jura Capresso machines are responsible for keeping our team alert and ready for any creative challenge. You can often find staff hovering over the machine waiting for their turn to brew their perfect cup and praying that the “decalcify” alert doesn’t pop up. This gadget is easily used most frequently throughout the day!

Cameras, Cameras and more Cameras:

Whether it’s the trusty XLR, Cannon 7D DSLR or the Cannon XA10 video camera, we’re huge fans of photography and video equipment. Our offices house a variety of video and still-shot cameras that we use for client projects ranging from headshots to web videos, to television commercials and more.

Chad’s Gym:

Why join a gym when you can work out in one designed by our own CFO, Chad Mitchell? Our staff enjoys working out before, during and after work in our fully stocked gym with free weights, cardio equipment, a smith machine, large flat screen TV and full private shower.

Unlimited Ice Cream and Candy:

Technically, this isn’t a gadget, but it’s certainly one of the favorite perks of A. Bright Idea. Whether its coffee, ice cream or candy, we have enough sugar and caffeine to please all! The fully stocked (and custom branded) freezer satisfies a sweet tooth and serves as a great pick me up for the non-coffee lover. Who can turn down popsicles, Klondike bars, drumsticks, chocolate covered bananas and a wide array of fruity or chocolate candy from the candy bar? Staff, clients and visitors are always appreciative of this little treat!

With gadgets and perks like these, our unique work environment provides the right balance of fun and focus to keep our creative and innovative brains flowing for our clients!


We at A. Bright Idea love Halloween. Not only do we enjoy being creative all year, but there’s something special that this season that allows us to reach a bit further and let the juices really flow. It’s a time where many businesses abandon traditional advertising messages and have a little fun. Halloween is an excuse for creatives, and even non-creative types, to dig deep and explore their inner evil (…I mean creative) genius.

In the spirit of embracing creative advertising during the season, we invite you to check out some of the scary seasonal ads we love. Some are scary funny, while others are scary truths that take advantage of this time of year to enhance the organization’s key message and create a greater impact with the target audience.

Mall of America
We love the style and animation with the traditional spooky narration.

A festive continuation of a now iconic campaign.

Just a normal commercial with a hilarious twist at the end, making every woman laugh and every man sigh.

A retro look back at the McNuggets circa 1989 as they celebrate Halloween with Ronald.

Thank goodness M&M’s don’t really look like this! But the Thriller dance is a good rendition.

Although we like the vampire version (remember Dracula likes to “eat the peanut butter first…ha ha ha ha!”), Reece’s still knows how to capture the spirit – and lets just say it, they are one of the best candies to get in your bag!

Keep darks their darkest! This ad was designed by Euro RSCG Puerto Rico. (In collage below)

You may think, “what is so scary about this?” Take another look (vampire fans will appreciate the subtle effect). We also love the dark side of this creative. (In collage below)

Halloween Advertising

Additional ads from collage above:

Dentist Grim Reaper Ad

Dexter Hanibal Ad

Burger King Chucky

Developers and piracy

Screamfest Cinema

Hand Gel Subway