Shawn Nesaw

Keeping up with all the updates to each social media platform is a daunting task. With no set schedule for updates, some channels have multiple updates in one month and zero updates in another. Similarly, some channels have numerous new additions in one update, while others don’t.

With social media constantly evolving, it’s imperative for social media pros to stay up to date with the latest from each platform so they can stay ahead of the curve and use new features to address communication goals as soon as possible. Let’s get right into it – here is the June social media update round-up.

Facebook 

June saw a big improvement to Facebook Live video with the implementation of closed captioning. This update provides more access to Facebook Live video for people with hearing impairments. For this feature to work, turn on captioning settings and the captions will automatically appear in your live video.

Safety Check was updated with four new features:

    • Fundraising
    • Expanding community help
    • Sharing a personal note when completing a safety check-in is completed
    • Introducing crisis descriptions

Facebook Messenger’s video chat in feature also received an update to now include animated reactions, filters, masks, effects and the ability to take screenshots of your video chat.

 

Instagram 

We all grow and change and so do our Instagram feeds. The new Archive feature, introduced in June, allows users to move photos previously shared on your feed into Archive where only you can see them.

If you change your mind, select “show on profile ” and the image will reappear in its original spot. Just click the circle arrow in the top right corner of the app to start archiving.

Also rolled out in June, after you go live on Instagram,  you are prompted to share a replay on your Instagram Story to let more people catch up on what they missed.

 

Twitter

In June, Twitter rolled out new features for businesses allowing them to add buttons to drive actions in Direct Messages (DM).

Probably the biggest change in June across all platforms was the Twitter facelift. This generous and well-deserved update to the Twitter user interface (UI) this month showed users that Twitter is still a viable social media player and that it listens to its users. Without getting too technical, here are the new changes to Twitter.

Click to watch
  • Slide right to access your profile, additional accounts, settings and more.
  • Refined the typography throughout the app so headlines are bolder and distinct from the rest of the text in your feed.
  • Round profile pics
  • The icons and the reply button changed from an arrow to a speech bubble and all the icons were slimmed down.

 

Snapchat

Snapchat unveiled Snap Map, which allows users to see what people are up to around the world by using the new maps feature. Pinch on the screen to zoom out and view the map. This feature allows you to also select your location settings so you can decide who can see your location while you are on the app.

Additionally, Snapchat introduced the ability to design custom Geofilters right in the app for any special occasion – birthdays, anniversary parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. Until now, this ability was reserved for desktop and designers. To get started, tap “On-Demand Geofilters” in Settings. Pricing for Geofilters starts at $5.99 in the app.

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn received a few updates at once to improve the mobile experience. Now, you can see your connection history. Use this new feature to add some personal detail when you reach out.

Another new feature, Search Appearances, allows you to see how many people found you in search and the companies and job titles of the people searching for you.

Three other minor changes to the platform include:

  • Implementation of a new drag and drop feature allowing you to easily reorganize volunteer and education sections of your profile
  • Ability to add an image to any comment across the LinkedIn platform, when words just won’t do
  • Provide quick reply messages for when you want to reply, but don’t have the time

If you do not see these updates on your phone, go to the App Store or Google Play Store and update the apps to receive the latest features and check back next month for another roundup of social media updates.

Maria Dontas

Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to consume copious amounts of chocolate and whether you’re celebrating with your gals, pals or significant other, it’s also a great time to appreciate some heart-felt tunes. We polled our team and present for your listening pleasure our mostly-mushy — we’ve got a few rebels in there — Valentine’s Day playlist.

Valentine's Day Playlist

Check out our playlist on Spotify!

Katie Bouloubassis

We developed our own list of major social media trends we think are really going to take off this year. Since some of the items on our list were relatively mainstream last year, we’ll explain each tool and give our insight on how you and/or your business can utilize these this year, either on your social media accounts or website.

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the emergence of social media. Since its humble and somewhat intangible beginnings, social media has become the way to engage audiences in a discussion surrounding campaigns and increasing brand awareness for businesses and products. Consumers also seek reviews from family and friends about products and services through social media before making decisions to buy. The content users post on their social media channels evolves as quickly as the tools used to capture the content.

At A. Bright Idea, we continuously research the latest applications, tools and techniques. Here are the top four social media trends we’re excited about and look forward to implementing this year:

Boomerang: One of the hottest features we’ve seen in the past six months is Boomerang. This Instagram-exclusive feature loops a series of photographs together to create movement, making them visually similar to a GIF. Users can film Boomerangs within the Instagram app, adding it to their “story” or through the stand-alone Boomerang app. As video continues to rise in popularity throughout social media, Boomerang adds another level of engagement, furthering the wide use of video features to every day users. If you’re on Instagram, you should try Boomerang. We recommend using it once per story and very infrequently in your actual Instagram feed. Boomerangs are compatible on Facebook and Twitter, as well as Instagram.

When you win new business!

Live Video: Live video serves a purpose for broadcasting information or entertainment. It gives audiences a direct connection with the broadcaster in real-time for a true-to-life experience. Facebook, Instagram and Periscope are the most popular applications offering this service. Live video thrives due to its unedited, unrehearsed and in-the-moment content. The uses of live video are many and worth a try. If you’re looking to boost engagement on Facebook, we recommend using Facebook Live to get a nice bump in engagement. Facebook algorithms play favorites with their in-app tools, allowing your live video content to reach more people than a normal photo or video. We recently wrote a blog to serve as the beginners guide to using Periscope for live video. You can use the tips in that article for any live video application.

360 Video and Photographs:
Panoramic video and photographs give a 360-degree view from where the user stands. Images and video captured leaves a lasting impression from the stunning views or perspectives of the photographer. For social media, posting 360 images provides the audience with an interesting perspective. The post becomes more engaging, enticing audiences to interact with the photo to see the entire image. Currently, Facebook allows users to post their panoramic or 360 photographs directly to their account. YouTube supports 360 video. We anticipate an uptick in 360 video use with event centers and venues trying to showcase their amazing spaces to potential audiences. 360 video improves leaps and bounds on the Y2K era “virtual tour” with the use of Virtual Reality viewing devices and interactive features within the video.
Click the photo to enter the full interactive experience on Facebook (view on your phone for the best results)

Drones: Another popular piece of technology that we think is going to make waves on social media is drones. Drones are radio-controlled aircrafts used in many practical functions. The aircrafts vary in size, shape, type and capability. First introduced in military surveillance applications, todays off-the-shelf drones are primarily used by professional and novice photographers and hobbyists alike. In order to operate a drone, you must first register the craft with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Guidelines for flight are listed on their website under “Fly for Fun.” Drones squeezed their way into the mainstream in 2016, mostly on YouTube but now Target and Best Buy sell drones so we’re anticipating seeing more wondrous drone video and photography on Facebook and Instagram this year.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s our drone “Buzz”.

As with everything in life, “everything in moderation.” The same is true for social media. The trends above balance accounts and create diversity of posts while adding personality and fun to a feed. However, you can have too much of a good thing. Use the trending social media services sparingly. A feed of nothing but Boomerangs and drone shots might get engagement in the beginning but will become unexciting to audiences over time.

Let us know the top social media trends you engage with on a daily basis by commenting below.

Lisa Condon

The new year brings with it a rebirth of colors that add to the hope of warmer times ahead. And if the Pantone Color Institute has anything to say about it, four leaf clovers, leprechauns and spring foliage are in luck after its latest announcement.

Every year, Pantone announces a color or colors of the year. For 2017, Pantone selected “greenery” as Color of the Year (or for my fellow graphic designers out there, Pantone 15-0343). The shade of choice is “a fresh and zesty yellow-green.”

Pantone is internationally respected by the print and design industry as the authority for its “products, services and leading technology for the colorful exploration and expression of creativity.” When Pantone speaks, designers and communicators listen.

With over 1,800 colors in its database, color selection and usage of Pantone’s designs can seem overwhelming at times. The selection of appropriate colors for our designs helps us tell client’s stories through our visual expertise.

I recently had a conversation with my colleague Brian Lobsinger, our director of visual communications, West Coast operations, about using greenery to cut through the visual clutter.

Our advice is identifying complementary shades for the color of choice. These can take the most ordinary creations and give them a jolt of vibrancy and character. For greenery, color complements include:

– Neutrals
– Brights
– Deeper shades
– Pastels
– Metallics

Most notably, these are found in red, brown and gray hues.

Green happens to be my favorite color, and I find it a refreshing tone. Using complementary colors is a great way to produce dynamic, inspirational visuals that grab the attention of the audience and produce stunning results.

Tell us how you plan to incorporate Pantone’s Color of the Year – greenery – into your life by commenting below.

TJ Brightman

You finally wrapped your last present, put the finishing touches on your decorations, baked one more batch of grandma’s famous cookies and even selected your holiday dinner – but what about the wine?

The hectic nature of the holiday season is stressful enough without worrying about the right wine to serve or worse yet, the right wine to bring to someone’s home as a gift. Follow these simple tips in making your wine selection and then kick back, say cheers and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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  1. The sky is the limit. – When selecting a wine for the perfect holiday occasion, understand that short of box wine there is nothing off limits. Wine comes in many varietals and price ranges, but expensive doesn’t always mean good and taking a chance on a smaller brand you’ve never heard of doesn’t mean bad.
  2. Wine should be fun. When you find yourself staring at the shelf full of wine bewildered by all of those cool, edgy and colorful wine labels (designed by some hip ad agency no doubt) or shelf talkers screaming at you with giant wine scores from the so-called experts, remember to take a deep breath and relax. Wine is supposed to be fun and about sharing something with your family or friends over delicious food and warm conversations.
  3. It’s all about variety. Don’t be overly concerned about wine pairing or one particular varietal over another. If you’re like most Americans, the holidays are about variety, everything from carved red meats, creamy cheeses, savory dishes and sweet desserts. Like that wonderful baseball movie line, “If you build it, they will come,” or in this case, “if you serve it, they will drink it!”

But since this is a wine blog about the best wines to enjoy for the holidays, here are a few of my personal favorites that you might want to add to your cellar. Keep in mind all of these wines are deliberately $50 or less considering all of the choices in this price range.

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

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2013 Simi Alexander Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma County) $26

2012 Hall (Napa Valley) Cabernet $46  – pictured

2012 Jordan (Alexander Valley Sonoma) Cabernet $49

2012 Groth Vineyards (Oakville Napa Valley) Cabernet $50
Quite truthfully, what could be better? If you know me you probably know I’m a California purist at heart and for this publication will only recommend wines from the Golden State with a focus in Sonoma Valley or neighboring Napa Valley. These wines pair perfectly with a medium-rare Christmas tenderloin, carved roast or dark chocolate truffle after dinner.

 

Champagne

ABI_TJ_Wine_Recommendations_December_2016-33Gloria Ferrer (Sonoma), Brut $18

Domaine Carneros (Carneros), Blanc De Noir Sparking $38

Veuve Clicquot (France), Yellow Label Brut $45 – pictured

In all my years enjoying wine, I’m pretty sure there is one thing that goes with everything and that’s a fine bubbly. Nothing says elegant more than a bottle of Champagne or Sparkling and your guests or special someone will thank you for it later.

 

Zinfandel

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St. Francis (Sonoma County) Old Vines Zinfandel $20 – pictured

2014 Selby (Sonoma County) Bobcat Zinfandel $42

2014 Gamba (Russian River Valley) Zinfandel $50

Maybe a varietal you haven’t tried or liked, but the secret is finding the right food to enjoy with this wonderful red with for the holidays. Typically lighter in color than a Cab or Merlot this moderate tannin and high acidity wine is higher in alcohol and perfect with lamb, pork, especially barbecue or a big hearty meal like your Mom can only make.

 

Pinot Noir

ABI_TJ_Wine_Recommendations_December_2016-9 (1)2014 Decoy (Sonoma Valley) Pinot Noir- $22

2014 Sonoma-Cutrer (Sonoma Coast) Pinot Noir $33

2014 Landmark Vineyards (Sonoma Coast) Grand Detour Pinot Noir $35

2014 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards (Sonoma Coast) Pinot Noir $44 – pictured

2014 Ramey (Russian River Valley) Pinot Noir $49

Forget about the 2004 cult film, “Sideways,” this varietal was made famous by the French and in Sonoma County some of the very best in the world! If the label says “Russian River” or “Sonoma Coast” then it’s like tossing darts.

 

Whites

ABI_TJ_Wine_Recommendations_December_2016-16
2015 Walt (Sonoma Coast) Chardonnay $40

2015 Adelshelm (Willamette Valley Oregon) Pinot Gris $18

2014 Hall (Napa Valley) Sauvignon Blanc $22

2014 Cakebread (Napa Valley) Chardonnay $44

2015 Darioush Signature Viognier $45

2014 Kiernan Robinson Wines (Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley) Viognier $45 – pictured

Don’t just grab the first bottle of Chardonnay you see! Many California Chardonnays are pretty typical, and you either love them or you don’t. You know the kind, big, buttery and oaky with hints of vanilla and butterscotch. Unless you are serving some lobster tails New Year’s Eve, try some of my favorite white varietals, including Chardonnay.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Kristie Sheppard

Can you believe that mainstream social media didn’t launch until the 2000s? Since the early days of MySpace and Friendster, social media experienced significant and rapid growth. Now, there are hundreds of social platforms worldwide. It’s impossible to have a strategic presence on every social network, even for the largest companies in the world. In fact, most businesses only manage 2-4 social channels truly effectively but for a good reason, audience participation.

It’s important for any business but nonprofits specifically, to strategically determine where audiences interested in your organization are on social. Nonprofit organizations can effectively manage social platforms even with smaller staffs, budgets and resources. We recommend using major platforms that engage with the most users: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and, if you’re on the trendsetting side of social media, Snapchat. With your social channels selected, your organization can focus on audience engagement.

Once upon a time, the number of followers/likes was the measurement of success on social platforms, but now success is measured by engagement. Why? Engagement translates to conversion rates – conversion to becoming a donor, attending events or joining your mailing list. Nonprofits want to see these actions as a result.

It is common knowledge that nonprofits struggle with resources of time, money and staff so we are recommending five tried and true strategies to increase engagement on your social media platforms.

  1. Get visual

Add photos to your posts on Twitter and Facebook. Share behind-the-scenes images. Show your donors what your group does! Photographs garner more engagement than text-only posts. Remember, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

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Using video to host interviews and show behind the scenes content of your business or event allows audiences to feel included in something special.

  1. Spark a conversation

Use social media as a way to dialogue with your audience. Social media has the power to serve as much more than a bulletin board. Engage your followers in conversation instead of just announcing information. Ask for their feedback. Find out what they want from the organization. Developing an online relationship will increase conversion rates.

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Start a conversation and continue it. Pets Lifeline monitored their Facebook feed so when Renaissance Sonoma commented, they were ready with a response to further the conversation.

  1. Get engaged

Just like you want engagement on your page, other pages want your engagement too! Get in the conversation. Follow like-minded groups and sponsors. React and reply to your followers’ posts. Share, with comments, what others are saying. Increasing your engagement with others will raise your social profile and expand your audience.

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Show your gratitude to other businesses on social channels, making sure to tag the business and others involved to lengthen the reach of the post, ultimately boosting engagement.  

  1. Be different

Every social platform has a different style and audience. Don’t just link your accounts so the same posts hit multiple platforms. While that is the easy way , it is not the effective way. The photo you use on Instagram needs different content on Facebook. You may tag different groups on each platform. Hashtags are most effective on Twitter and Instagram. The more hashtags you use on Instagram, the larger your reach, but on Twitter your text is limited.

  1. Pay to Play

We understand you might not have a social media budget. But don’t run away yet. Advertising and boosting posts on social media is one of the most cost-effective and targeted ways to increase engagement and grow your audience. Boost a post with a compelling image of why someone should donate, advertise your event or boost a post about how to join the newsletter. For as little as $25 a month, you can get great results.

Bonus Content: More tips to stay trendy on social media.

We always recommend starting with the development of a strategic social media plan, especially when multiple people from one organization are responsible for social media efforts. Success can only happen when the same messaging is consistently shared with your audience. For additional information, visit www.abrightideaonline.com.

Shawn Nesaw

Chili cook-off recipes

Shawn Nesaw | November 22, 2016

It’s the end of November and the weather here in Maryland is sadly hinting at winter. When it’s cold, nothing warms you up like a delicious, hearty bowl of chili so A. Bright Idea held it’s first ever chili cook-off. Nine ‘Bright Lights’ crafted their best chili in hopes of being crowned “chili champion.” The competition was fierce but a winner was declared.

We’re all about sharing so we decided to share several recipes from this years chili cook-off with you. We hope you enjoy them. Let us know which one you’re going to try. Happy cooking!

2016 chili cook-off recipes

1. Guinness chili (Winner)

IMG_0170

Ingredients:
1 lb – Lean Ground Beef
1 lb – Lean Ground Pork
½ lb – Thick cut bacon
½ a bottle of guinness (other half is for drinking)
1-16 oz. can of beef broth
1-16 oz can of red kidney beans
1-16 oz can of pinto beans
1-28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
2 Fire roasted hatch chilis, diced
1 Jalapeno, diced
¼ cup of molasses
¼ cup of brown sugar
¼ cup of chili powder
¼ cup of ground cumin
1 tbsp of Tabasco hot sauce
1 tbsp of salt

Directions:
Cook bacon until crisp and remove from pan, leaving hot bacon grease in pan, dump diced garlic, onion and peppers into pan and sautee in the bacon grease. Lightly season vegetables with salt, pepper, chili powder and ground cumin as they cook, add in crumbled bacon and pour in guinness. Continue to cook vegetables in pot with no lid, until all guinness is cooked down and vegetables are soft. Transfer vegetables into crockpot. Pour beans and tomatoes into crockpot, stir and set on low.

Brown ground beef and ground pork in same pot as vegetables. Once cooked all the way, remove grease and pour beef broth and remaining guinness into cooked meat mixture. Let meat cook with no lid on pan, until the liquid is cooked down. Transfer meat into crockpot and stir all ingredients into crock pot. Pour in half the amount of seasoning, sugar and molasses and cook on low for 8 hours. After 8 hours mix in remaining seasoning, brown sugar, molasses and tabasco hot sauce and cook for another 2 hours. Serve with sharp cheddar cheese and sour cream.

2. Turkey verde chili (Runner-up)

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Ingredients:
2 pounds ground turkey (can substitute ground pork)
2 pounds tomatillos roasted and peeled
1 pound poblano peppers roasted, peeled, seeded, and cored
1 large onion finely diced
2 bunches of cilantro
3 cloves garlic
32 oz of chicken stock
cumin
coriander
salt peper
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:
Brown turkey in a stock pot/ soup pot. Add finely diced onion to soften. In a blender add: poblanos, 1 1/2 pounds of tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, and 1/2 of your chicken stock. Blend well. Chop the remaining 1/2 pound of tomatillos. After turkey and onions are cooked, add in contents of blender, chopped tomatillos, remaining chicken broth, cream. add cumin, coriander, salt & pepper to taste. Bring to boil, then simmer for about 2 hours.

To add some roast, peel, seed, core one jalapeño and add to blender mixture.

Add more chicken broth if you like a soup with more liquid.

3. Turkey, sweet potato, black bean chili

IMG_0169

Ingredients:
1 lb. of ground turkey
1 onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
2.5 lbs sweet potatoes
1 – 28oz. can whole tomatoes
1 – 6oz can tomato paste

Directions:
Place the ground turkey, onions, garlic, spices, and sea salt in a 4-quart crockpot. Use a wooden spoon to break up the turkey and mix everything together.
Cut the ends off the sweet potatoes and trim off any unsightly bits. Then, cut them into quarters lengthwise. Cut the quarters crosswise into chunks about 1½ inches in size.
Place the sweet potatoes over the top of the turkey mixture.
Place the whole tomatoes and tomato paste in a blender and blend until combined but still chunky. Pour the tomato mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes and turn the crockpot to low.
Cook for 8-10 hours, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Taste the chili and add salt to your taste.
Serve with any and all toppings you desire.

4. “Yummy chili”

IMG_0165

Ingredients:
2 29 oz cans tomato puree
2 29 oz cans tomato sauce
1 29 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb chorizo
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1 sweet onion
6 TB brown sugar
3 TB yellow mustard
6 TB chili powder
6 TB cumin

Directions:
Brown and drain beef and sausage. Saute onion. Add beef and sausage and remaining ingredients. Enjoy!

5. Chicken noodle soup

IMG_0168

Ingredients:
rotisserie chicken
2 stalks of celery
1 small yellow onion
1/2-3/4 cup of carrot sticks
1 large box of chicken broth
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 box bow tie pasta
3 bouillon cubes

Directions:
Dice up the onion and celery. Sautee onion, celery and carrots until the onions are translucent. Add everything else and let it cook on low medium for about 30 minutes or until noodles are tender. Serve.

 

Let us know which recipe you’re going to try in the comments below. We hope you enjoy these as much as we did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

ABI_Hive_Rev111015_vertical

This past month we celebrated our super hero moms and paused for a moment to give thanks to the special women in our lives. As a working mother myself, this moment was especially meaningful.

At the recent Women In Defense sponsored Real Women, Real Work, Real World workshop the topic of work-life balance came up many times. Here, a diverse group of women from the mid-Atlantic defense community came together to discuss triumphs, tribulations and meet with potential mentors in the predominantly male-dominated Defense work field.

The tone set by keynote speaker Ms. Amoretta M. (Amie) Hoeber, Former Presidential Appointee to the Under Secretary of the Army, was one of frank discussion on overcoming challenges set for women in this industry.

After her honest and refreshing discussion on keeping true to oneself and taking opportunities when they come, I took advantage of the Q&A session by posing a thought weighing heavy on my mind: “How do I leave behind the guilt of dropping off my five month old baby at daycare everyday?” Her answer was simple and empowering – You don’t. She explained that the guilt will never dissipate, but to let the guilt associated with the decision to work go. Being a working mom is a powerful thing, she noted, but also a sacrifice we make for our children.

Later that morning, I joined the breakout session focused on the recent book by Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In. Led by Harford County Director of Community Services, Beth Hendrix, the room was full of women ready to talk about their perspective of what it means to “lean in.” How empowering to be surrounded by so many strong women sharing their mistakes and successes in leaning into their own professional and personal opportunities. The common theme throughout the discussion was agreeing with Sandberg’s stance on “having it all” doesn’t mean that all aspects of your life have the same prioritization. She notes, “We need more portrayals of women as competent professional and happy mothers – or even happy professionals and competent mothers.”

As a member of Generation X, this seemed like the approach that makes the most sense to me, and as Anne-Marie Slaughter noted in last summer’s cover story of The Atlantic the younger generation of feminists paints “having it all” a myth.

Previously the director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department and dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, she notes: “Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation. But when many members of the younger generation have stopped listening, on the grounds that glibly repeating ‘you can have it all’ is simply airbrushing reality, it is time to talk.”

And America is talking. It seems that every other morning there are women, and men, interviewing on the morning shows and talking to the “new balance” with the majority of households now boasting dual incomes.

So as we move onto June and make our way to Father’s Day let us take a moment and give thanks to men and women in our lives that choose to have it all – just remember, it doesn’t have to be all at the same time.