Jimmie Cummings, Director of Government Services
Jimmie Cummings, Director of Government Services

In response to its growing government business, A. Bright Idea Advertising and Public Relations announced that Jimmie Cummings, has been hired to fill a newly created position within the firm as its Director of Government Services.

Cummings’, a former Army lieutenant colonel and public affairs officer, just recently retired after over 22 years of military service that included serving in positions at Fort George G. Meade, the Pentagon and numerous deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Jimmie is an experienced leader and strategic communicator with a great deal of public affairs, crisis communication and media relations expertise in and around the military and government realm,” says T.J. Brightman, Principal/Vice President of Client Relations of A. Bright Idea.  “Strong and diverse talent is just one of the things we pride ourselves on at A. Bright Idea.  Jimmie will be another tremendous addition to our staff here and he was the ideal fit for our new position.”

Cummings’ most recent public affairs assignments included stops at Fort George G. Meade as the Executive Officer and Integration Chief of the Army Public Affairs Center, and a deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was a spokesman and press desk chief for both the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Army Forces-Afghanistan.  While deployed to Afghanistan for a year he provided public affairs support to numerous high profile and cultural sensitive incidents with global implications.  Cummings advised U.S. and ISAF senior leaders on public affairs strategies, crisis communication and media relations in a cultural diverse and sensitive environment as well as coordinated public affairs operations with the U.S. Embassy staff in Kabul.

Cummings was also previously posted at the Pentagon in the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs (OCPA) as an Army spokesman and public affairs advisor on issues regarding operations, weapons, environment, and technology to include acquisition and force modernization.  He is a native of Fairhope, Ala., and now resides in Catonsville, Md.

An award-winning advertising and public relations agency with locations in Bel Air, Md. and Sonoma, Calif. A. Bright Idea excels at identifying opportunities, generating ideas and executing customized solutions that deliver results for government, commercial and nonprofit clients including: U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Economic Development Administration, Department of Defense Joint Program Manager – Elimination (APG); National Institute of Corrections; DuPont; Stella Maris; Courtland Hearth and Hardware; Kenwood Kitchens; The John Carroll School; Yountville Chamber of Commerce; St. Francis Winery & Vineyards; Sonoma Valley Teen Services; Slavie Federal Savings Bank; Sonoma Valley Education Foundation; and Sonoma Valley Community Health Center among many others. For more information on A. Bright Idea and its services, visit www.abrightideaonline.com or email info@abrightideaonline.com.

 

Bel Air, Maryland. – In a move to bolster its already growing team, A. Bright Idea Advertising and Public Relations hired Manager of Communications for Harford County Public Schools, Teri Kranefeld as a Senior Communications Specialist & Public Affairs Manager.

“Strong talent is just one of the things we pride ourselves on at A. Bright Idea,” says T.J. Brightman,

Principal/Vice President of Client Relations of A. Bright Idea.  “Teri’s resume speaks for itself and her senior leadership and relationships will only strengthen our agency in both the government and private sectors.”

Spending nearly nine years with Harford County Public Schools, first as a Communication Specialist and Manager of Communications for the past five, Kranefeld has been responsible for the management and coordination of all communications efforts for a school system of 38,000 students and 5,500 employees. Working for the second largest employer in Harford County, Kranefeld served as the chief spokesperson for the school system and advised the Superintendent and Board of Education.

“Teri’s track record working with the media as a solid communications, branding and public relations practitioner made her a natural fit for us,” Brightman says.  “We expect our clients who already know her will be thrilled and the ones who don’t will love her.”

Prior to her senior post with Harford County Public Schools, Kranefeld spent seven years with the American Lung Association of Maryland, her final three years as the organization’s Director of Education. It was there that she was responsible for the supervision, implementation, design and marketing of all asthma and indoor air quality statewide programs, including working with all 24 Maryland school districts.

Kranefeld will join A. Bright Idea in February at the firm’s Bel Air office as a member of the Advertising and Marketing Department.

An award-winning advertising and public relations agency with locations in Bel Air, Md. and Sonoma, Calif. A. Bright Idea excels at identifying opportunities, generating ideas and executing customized solutions that deliver results for government, commercial and nonprofit clients including: Baltimore County Savings Bank; Courtland Hearth and Hardware; Kenwood Kitchens; Flavor Cupcakery; The John Carroll School; Yountville, Napa Valley Chamber of Commerce; Department of Defense Joint Program Manager – Elimination (APG); Jordan Thomas Salon & Spa; Grapevine Catering; Gourmet Cooke; St. Francis Winery & Vineyards; Sonoma Valley Teen Services; , U.S. Economic Development Administration; National Institute of Corrections; DuPont; Slavie Federal Savings Bank; , Sonoma Valley Education Foundation; and Sonoma Valley Community Health Center among many others. For more information on A. Bright Idea and its services, visit www.abrightideaonline.com or email info@abrightideaonline.com.

 

Keeping Strategy in PR

abimaster | November 13, 2013

Nonprofit organizations provide great benefits through services and products to local communities, positively changing the lives of families and individuals – your loved ones, friends, neighbors and colleagues. In most cases, they’re providing support with limited funds and resources, running on the time of volunteers along, while for-profit businesses have the advantage of better resources and full-time staff to support their endeavors. Often times, these disadvantages mean nonprofit organizations are put on the back burner with the media because their stories may not have the “flash” and grander available to the media from for-profits.

Focusing on nonprofit organizations, it’s especially crucial to keep a strong strategy behind PR efforts in order to effectively garner the attention of the media even with limited resources and time. Public relations require careful strategy to demonstrate information relevant to the audience. Implementing this strategy in a tactful and meaningful manor comes in the form of the newest PR buzzword – PESO – paid, earned, shared and owned media.

  • Owned – content generated by the organization and thus messages controlled completely through their content
  • Paid – paid advertising or sponsorships via media partnerships or other events
  • Earned – information presented to the public via the media where the organization is a resource; or PSA/donated media via advertising
  • Shared – social media mentions and virtual/social media conversations (“buzz”) surrounding the organization that builds through a word-of-mouth, viral network

These four avenues implemented strategically by any organization can garner attention related to its cause. Below are examples for paid, earned, shared and owned media and how to execute tools and tactics related to each. It’s important to consider added value with each, including compelling content the media can incorporate with mentions, such as images/video, trends, expert references, social media polls/campaigns, pop culture references, etc. Including these types of compelling content provide relevance for the media’s audience making the story more important.

Paid

  • Media exposure and mentions via media sponsors/partnerships, including print, radio, television, digital outdoor, and online impressions
  • Public exposure and mentions via partnerships, including other business’/organizations websites, press releases, broadcast media mentions, on-site/stadium events/exposure

Earned (Media pitches)

  • How businesses are affected by the organization’s fundraising, including statistics and what that means for those employed by or benefiting from the products and services of those businesses; Relate it back to the end user
  • Research and technology advances in the local area that support the organization, including scientific sources and news articles
  • Profiles on each volunteers/donors and their connection to the organization and the community, including video interviews and photos so viewers can identify
  • Benchmarks and milestones in industry advancements related to the organization and how they can be applied by families and individuals locally, including expert tips and trends for easy application

Shared

  • Charts/graphics/statistics locally and what difference funds raised for the organization could mean to the community
  • Map of communities within the area served most effected by the problems the organization serves to help
  • Facebook poll quizzing social media users on statistics and facts
  • Links to research directly impacted by the organization
  • Hashtags to use on FourSquare and Facebook when you check in at locations related to the organization and its cause

Owned

  • Create a PSA to distribute to local media outlets and ask them to share the video in order to help your specific cause. The PSA will serve as a vehicle to control the message and can be repurposed for earned media.
  • Provide the media with statistics specific to the local community and how money raised by the organization can help to improve those statistics
  • Create information graphics to visually represent statistics, event information and key messages that can be provided to the media for easy inclusion in their stories/mentions
  • Video clips from organization events and locally-based families and individuals who have benefited from the organization

With all public relations efforts, it’s important to make the pitch newsworthy with an angle that allows the media and the media’s audience to relate without much thought. For example, correspondence and information provided to the media should be brief, in layperson terms, eliminating hype and sticking to fact and direct to what it means to the audience.

Client News – Summer 2013

abimaster | September 24, 2013
  • This fall, look for A. Bright Idea’s new creative and production for Stella Maris’ Anniversary Campaign. Highlighting the remarkable service of a leader in elder care, A. Bright Idea offers strategic marketing support in celebration of Stella Maris’ 60 years of long term care and 30 years of hospice care in Maryland. The anniversary campaign includes a custom anniversary logo, strategic marketing and communications plan, media campaign and video production, as well as marketing collateral and event support.
  • The John Carroll School launches its 50th anniversary year with a custom logo and timeline-style brochure, including vintage photos and milestone dates, designed by A. Bright Idea.
  • Grapevine Catering is moving into a new space in Santa Rosa, CA where both the catering company will operate and their Earth’s Bounty Fine Foods products will be sold. The new storefront, Earth’s Bounty Kitchen & Wine Bar will have a take away menu and artisan produced products along with a full-service café and wine bar. A. Bright Idea supports the businesses with branding, signage, marketing, website, collateral design, email marketing and more.
  • Flavor Cupcakery supports wounded veterans and boasts community spirit with “It’s a Flavorful Life” – a week of promotions and special offers from the cupcakery and fellow small businesses in Bel Air and Cockeysville, MD. A. Bright Idea provided a custom event mark, collateral and PR support for the campaign.
  • A. Bright Idea designed the collateral and promotional materials for the Sonoma Valley Teen Services annual fundraising event, Cowboy Cab. Held at Larson Family Winery, the event sold out this year with over 200 guests in attendance. Check out a photo from the event here.
  • A. Bright Idea positions Synergy Integration Advisors for growth with a brand refresh, custom information graphic and icons, capabilities statement, brochure, document templates and stationery.
  • Celebrating 40 years in business, A. Bright Idea develops the Kenwood Kitchens Dream Kitchen contest, including advertising creative, print collateral and web page design, where one lucky winner will receive a $40,000 dream kitchen! Have you entered?

A. Bright Idea was selected among 20 other agencies to work with the Yountville Chamber of Commerce on destination marketing initiatives, providing marketing execution strategies with the goal of enhancing the current branding, programs and promotions for the organization. Known as the “Culinary Capital,” Yountville is nestled in Napa Valley, California and invites visitors to “Taste Life Here!”

Yountville was named after George Calvert Yount, a settler who came to the region in Napa Valley in 1831. Two years after Yount’s death, the town was renamed Yountville in honor of its founder and his contributions. George Yount was the first person to plant grape vines in the valley, forever putting Yountville on the map.

Today, Yountville is a small eclectic town with less than 3,000 residents and a premier destination in Wine Country. Known as a “one-stop-destination,” the town’s busiest tourist months fall in September and October, however on average Yountville has 6,111 visitors per day! The city is home to many award-winning wineries, authentic small town markets and world-renowned restaurants. Visitors and residents enjoy a variety of activities from hot air balloon rides and golfing, to art galleries and shopping, to wine tours and exciting events. Yountville is a remarkable town, rich in history and flavor – a true delight certain to satisfy any palette.

yountville logo

Making your story TV worthy

abimaster | September 11, 2012

A goal for many PR pros is to get the message out about their client or organization by landing a segment with Brian Williams or Diane Sawyer. Realistically speaking, the story would have to be not only timely, but also timeless, national and heartfelt in order to gain such high recognition in the media circuit. It’s also important to remember the power of local news, especially in considering small, local businesses and the impact they are making in our communities.

We recently attended a Baltimore Public Relations Council event hosted at WMAR (ABC 2) studios in Baltimore. The event included a panel of the WMAR news crew sharing tips to always consider for TV news coverage. Whether national or local, these tips along with our own experience demonstrating the importance of being strategic and prepared.

Think about the audience

Yes, it’s always important to think about your audience, but when pitching a news station it is equally, if not more, important to consider the station’s audience. Make sure your story relates to their viewers and don’t be afraid to do some research first to see who their key audiences are – what’s the age group, do they skew more male or female, what is the average household income, where is the audience geographically, etc. If your story proves to reach their core demographic the producers and news editors will be more inclined to pay attention.

Visuals are key

When pitching a news story it’s important to consider what viewers will actually see when watching your segment. This is usually the first question a producer will ask you – what visuals do you have? If you don’t have any thing to show the audience then you’ll likely lose their attention fast! In developing visuals, also consider the time of day, weather, lighting, season, etc. A segment on environmental protection at the scene of a toxic waste dump is a great visual, however, sharing the same story in a conference room is boring for the camera and the audience.

Have sound bites ready

Producers and multimedia journalists love when you can make their job easier by having the right people available and ready with ideal sound bits on cue. A sound bite is a simple piece of audio the camera can pick up to run with the segment or over b-roll footage. This should always be something memorable, including an important fact, statistic, offer or breaking news. Having these sound bites ready for the station allows them to film and edit the segment faster and more efficiently, so they can cover more news in one day.

Be flexible

With a news station it’s essential to remain flexible and ready to adjust at any moment. You may be scheduled for a live or recorded segment but the station needs to push because of breaking news that is taking their team to another location. If you’re able to be flexible and reschedule at a moments notice, without complication or hesitation, the station and crew will be more apt to work with you and come back to capture the segment at another time. Don’t forget, it’s their job to share the news with their viewers and breaking news is the most important and timely!

Agency earns honors for the fourth consecutive time

Bel Air, Md. – A. Bright Idea Advertising and Public Relations, an award-winning agency servicing the Baltimore Metropolitan region, recently received acknowledgement as one of the Top 100 Minority Business Enterprises in the State of Maryland. This marks the fourth win since the program’s establishment, reflecting the agency’s continued stature among trusted MBEs during every year of eligibility within the recognition program.

Honoring exceptional minority and women entrepreneurs, the Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise Award recognizes business owners for innovation, contributions to the business community, and inspirational impact on clients, professionals and other businesses. The awards ceremony took place at the University of Maryland, University College in Adelphi, Maryland in May.

Nominated by the region’s chambers of commerce, professional organizations, business community and general public, A. Bright Idea counts among one of 5,000 nominees from businesses in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. Sharon R. Pinder, founder of the Top 100 MBE Awards Ceremony stated “The winners of this year’s Top 100 MBE Award exemplifies excellence and stability especially during these turbulent economic times.” A. Bright Idea epitomizes achievements in entrepreneurship, professionalism, and contributions to the community.

“It remains an incredible honor to be recognized by the state again as one of the Top 100 MBE’s of the region,” says Anita A. Brightman, President and Founder of A. Bright Idea. “This award showcases the tremendous small business community here in Maryland and I am proud that A. Bright Idea is counted among the top echelon.”

An award-winning advertising and public relations agency with locations in Bel Air, Md. and Sonoma, Calif., A. Bright Idea excels at identifying opportunities, generating ideas and executing customized solutions that deliver results for government, commercial and non-profit clients. Based in Bel Air, we serve large and small clients including Science Applications International Corporation, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, DuPont, Baltimore County Savings Bank, Slavie Federal Savings Bank and Bel Air Center for Addictions, among many others.

For more information on A. Bright Idea, please visit www.abrightideaonline.com.