Anita Brightman

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” – Arthur Ashe
Since opening our doors 20 years ago, A. Bright Idea’s philosophy remains rooted in the idea that a group of people with boundless creativity and unwavering passion can change the world, or at least our own corner of it.
As communicators, we understand the power of telling the right story to the right people, in ways that create a positive impact. Often, our choice to work with organizations reflects our own desire to give back and create positive change in our community and our nation by supporting the great work of our clients. These organizations, both at the government and non-profit level, inspire us through the dedication to their mission and we quickly engage as an extension of their teams to reach a common goal.
Our team draws excitement and energy from causes improving the lives of others. We can think of no greater joy than the ability to effectively shine a light on an issue, service or idea to make the world a better place. This philosophy carried us through nearly two decades in an uncertain market. For me, proof that when you put your heart where you work, great things happen.
Whether it’s in the lives of children, the health of our nation’s communities or the richness of cultural fabric and preservation of history, we are passionate about supporting change and making a difference.
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On a local level, this means supporting future generations through initiatives to improve the lives of children. Working with the Boys & Girls Club of Harford County, as well as Teen Services Sonoma, Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, the John Carroll School and United Way of Central Maryland, offers us the opportunity to help build awareness in their missions, highlight their commitment to the betterment of children and drive community support on their behalf and for increased services for youth.

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October Take Back Day commercial shoot in Chicago with Mike Ditka.

Our dedication to community health issues remains equally as strong, from both a local and national perspective. Whether increasing access to affordable health care, educating the public on how to safely dispose unused prescription drugs to help reduce addiction and overdoses or bringing awareness and calls for action to combat the scourge of heroin and opioid addiction in our country, we are proud to be an integral part of the fight. Our community health work with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) showcases where we have long provided media buying and creative services for the successful National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative, which takes hundreds of tons of unused prescription medication off the streets each year – 6.5 million tons to date.
In addition, we currently provide the DEA with branding, strategic communication, advertising development and media buying services in support of the DEA 360 Strategy, a new initiative to combat the nation’s heroin and prescription opioid abuse crisis with a direct grassroots/community approach.
Commercial shoot with Boomer Esiason in New York City for Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that an agency full of creative professionals would be passionate about preserving and promoting arts and culture. The work we do on behalf of numerous cultural institutions and organizations spans both coasts. We are proud to play a role in highlighting the amazing artifacts and innovations at the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Libraries. On the local level, we support history and the arts through sponsorship support of the Napa Valley Museum and the Aberdeen Proving Ground Centennial Celebration Association.
Even as we bring our passion for making a difference to our work each day, we live it out in our personal lives too. Many of our employees continue their involvement in meaningful causes outside of work. Whether it’s through a commitment to personal artistic and musical endeavors, through volunteer work with our local schools or through fundraising efforts to fight childhood cancer and other serious diseases, our passion for making a difference always shines through.
We all want to help – solving problems, being part of solutions, building awareness and creating change. Coming together to be part of something bigger is weaved into our cultural fabric. Looking at the 20th year of A. Bright Idea and moving forward, we continue to look for ways to promote the good, building on the foundational values of our firm. One person can make a difference, but a team of like-minded, creative professionals with an unwavering commitment to truly making an impact, can create change. I’m proud of our team, as this is not something that can be taught. It’s instilled. We make a living and we make a difference every day through our creative talents and our commitment to raising each other and our clients up in all we do.
If you have something to add to this story, share it in the comment section below!

Shawn Nesaw

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.

  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.

Shawn Nesaw
  • 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?
Shawn Nesaw

Jack London State Park

Written by T.J. Brightman, Vice President of Client Relations
The California budget crisis has forced the closure of nearly 70 state parks, three of them in Sonoma County, California.  If successful, the state indicates it will recognize a savings of $33 million dollars over the next two fiscal years.   It will mark the first time in 100 years, including the Great Depression, that the parks department will entertain closure due to budget concerns.
As many of you know, A. Bright Idea expanded its reach of services by opening an office in Glen Ellen, Sonoma, California a little over a year ago.  In that time, we have had the opportunity to not only make some new friends within the business community but also experience first hand the true beauty that this part of the country has to offer.
Not only does A. Bright Idea find itself in the middle of wine country, but is just a stones throw away from Jack London State Park, a memorial to creative writer and adventurer Jack London who made his home in Glen Ellen from 1905 until his death in 1916.  It was on these 1400 acres that the American author wrote more than fifty fiction and nonfiction books, essays and short stories.  It was also on this hallowed ground that Jack London worked and lived off the land, experimenting and inventing  various  agricultural techniques.
This weekend, Brooke Austin, A. Bright Idea’s newest hire and Director of West Coast Operations, and I had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes tour of Jack London State Park with Chuck Levine, former board member of the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association.  Being an “East Coaster” all my life, I can’t say that I’ve ever been moved by the natural beauty of the outdoors more than I was during my visit to Jack London.  Maybe it was the giant redwoods, or simply seeing the views of Sonoma County from the Jack London residence that got my attention.   There was something special and tranquil about this place that could only make me imagine what Jack London saw in Sonoma when he moved from San Francisco in the early 1900s.
It was London who said, “All I wanted was a quiet place in the country to write and loaf in and get out of nature that something which we call need, only the most of us don’t know it.”
Politics aside, to think that a park like Jack London could close within the year is nothing more than a tragic outcome of the current economic crisis.  Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow qualified nonprofit organizations to take control of the parks scheduled for closure, assuming the management and operations.
As the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association positions itself to manage Jack London State Park, we are proud to partner with this nonprofit and continue our commitment of community as the organization works to secure control of the park and its overall operations in the coming year.

Shawn Nesaw

In the midst of this season of giving and reflection, I’m reminded of the many worthwhile organizations we had the pleasure of working with and supporting over the years. At A. Bright Idea, we all enjoy working with nonprofits and seeing our work contribute to better the community and help the individuals and families these organizations serve.
A cornerstone of our core values, we believe in giving our time and talents in the form of in-kind donations and serving in leadership positions. We can tell from the excitement in an executive director’s voice or from the turnout at a fundraising event that our design and marketing services were appreciated and helped make a difference. Even while helping these organizations solicit much needed donations that keep their doors open to serve deserving members of our communities, we also see other needs.
Even though these organizations are by definition nonprofits, they operate like a business, with all the associated expenses with running a business. Administrative leadership, staff, building expenses, insurance, technology, utilities, transportation and more can provide an overhead hardship to organizations struggling to funnel as much funding as possible to supporting their mission.
While many strive to offer their time as a volunteer staff member or even make that end-of-year monetary donation incentivized by tax credit, organizations remain burdened by the costs of services to keep everything running smoothly. This season, we encourage individuals and businesses to consider how they can lessen this burden to help improve a worthwhile nonprofit’s efficiency. Can you provide IT support or perform building maintenance? Mowing grass, painting, cleaning, website maintenance, accounting, answering phones – consider any of the things that keep a business ticking and consider letting your business make a difference for a nonprofit in your community.
Here are a few of the organizations we’ve supported in Harford County, Baltimore, Sonoma County and around the country. Connect with them today!
William E. Proudford Sickle Cell Fund
The Fuel Fund of Maryland
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County
The Greater Edgewood Education Foundation
Harford County Public Library Foundation
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Sonoma Valley Teen Services
Semper Fi Fund
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