Anita Brightman

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I reflect on my own journey. I feel our paths reveal themselves to us if we are open to any possibility. In 1996, I took a leap of faith and left my job with a large defense contractor, a comfortable position, to start A. Bright Idea. I took this risk because I wanted more control over my schedule and to advance my career at a quicker pace.

A new mother, I was scared to step out of my comfort zone, but knew I needed to do it.

Starting from scratch, I built ABI motivated by the voice in my head, saying, “I will not fail.”

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First, I made a plan and followed it. I needed to build a clientele. When things clicked, I worked to replicate and improve processes. When I encountered challenges, I looked for ways to improve, such as building checklists and refining processes to avoid future obstacles. The lessons I learned outside the confines of my comfort zone created the foundation of the A. Bright Idea way and guides how I work to this day. I continue to stay the course, keep my head down and keep marching. Working day by day, I forge ahead and persevere, striving to maximize my potential and create opportunity for others.

I did not set out on this journey with the intent of growing A. Bright Idea into a coast-to-coast, multi-office agency. But by building up my team with brilliant, capable people, something enduring was created. In all endeavors, especially creative ones, collaboration is key. Every day with our combined talents, the ABI team pushes through challenges and identifies opportunities to create innovative ways to support our clients, engage audiences and change conversations.

Directors of A. Bright Idea
Women of A. Bright Idea

The past and present power of the women in our industry, combined with collaboration and creativity, make a positive impact on our families, communities and workplaces. I look forward to all we can achieve and remain steadfast in my commitment to moving the industry forward, investing in the next generation as they create their paths and find their voices.

Anita A. Brightman, APR, Fellow PRSA

by Katie MacNichol

2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of the American Advertising Federation of Baltimore (AAFB). Established as the auxiliary to the men’s-only Advertising Club, the organization flourished thanks to a group of women who wanted their own voices heard amidst the growing advertising scene in burgeoning Baltimore. Just like A. Bright Idea, its creation came out of a desire to make an impact.

Over the last century, AAFB facilitated and connected communications and advertising experts spread out across the Baltimore market, creating and helping generations of professionals grow into the best in the industry.

Our industry relies on empowered team members who feel confident enough to share their ideas and mentors who are readily and enthusiastically willing to provide support.

Every day I see the amazing creative contributions of women in the field and think about the progress since AAFB’s founding. Just like those women who founded AAFB, Anita created a space for all of us to use our voices. Because of her experience starting ABI and the lessons she learned, we can truly make a difference.

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Bring bright ideas and more exclusive content to your inbox by subscribing to our e-newsletter, Illuminations, today!


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Marketing businesses using Facebook and Twitter has become a growing tactic in marketing plans across all industries. Social media platforms serve as an effective tool for circulating branded messaging, but Internet usage and trends continue to change every day.

In a recent article, Bulldog Reporter found that 90% of all Internet traffic and 50% of mobile traffic is now made up of photos and video. For growing visual media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, this means an opportunity for continued expansion. Instagram’s more than 200 million users make up an attractive market of young people for PR and marketers. Digital media reporting site Mashable has also found that 1 in 5 U.S. adults are now using Pinterest. These large groups of users of both platforms are at the ready to receive visual content that could ultimately lead to better connecting and capitalizing on consumer and brand relationships.

With the expanding use of visual media, it is more important than ever to control your brand’s messaging. People make decisions based on trust and brand promise. Using photos and visuals helps create another tangible connection to brands. As we can see from these recent statistics, it is becoming a greater means of communication – that old adage “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” Having a strategic presence in visual media can serve as a key tool to further brand development as part of an integrated marketing approach. Everything you do or say influences what people think about your brand, so providing them with a visual example of what your brand promises also helps demonstrate that your brand delivers on this promise.

No matter the medium, the ability to connect users with your brand is crucial to developing brand loyalty, and will ultimately lead to a better consumer experience. It’s important to assess your own brand strategy as it compares to trends, as not all trends serve brands equally. With the expanding use of visual media, now is an opportune time to analyze your own brand and consider the most strategic uses of visual media and how it can potentially become part of your integrated marketing approach.

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!


Remember when media was as simple as TV, radio and the newspaper? Today, it’s no longer just a few platforms in competition. In fact, here are some of the top media platforms competing for audience attention:

  • Television – 85 percent of American’s watch TV
  • Laptop/computer – 68 percent of American’s use a computer
  • Radio – 65 percent of American’s listen to the radio
  • Print (papers/magazines) – 61 percent of American’s read print media
  • Mobile – 55 percent of American’s consume media on their mobile device
  • Tablet – 28 percent of American’s consume media on their tablet device

* Source:

That’s just a glimpse of what forms of media advertising are available. Now consider cable, satellite radio, Internet radio, online and website advertising, social media and more. It’s enough to make you cringe when thinking of the numerous methods available today to reach your audience. It’s also very easy for organizations to lose sight of their strategic focus when facing this increasingly fragmented advertising world. A business’ strategic approach needs to focus on their goals, their target audience and their methods of consumption, as well as a specific call-to-action that will impact that audience.

Developing an integrated and strategic communications approach, including multiple media touch points, as well as incorporating other forms of marketing and public relations allows businesses to create an impression with the audience by using fragmentation as an advantage. By focusing on the underlying goals and creating a specific and strategic approach, unique and targeted advertising opportunities exist to brand an organization and still maintain a reasonable budget.

In the instance of advertising, the point you should always consider before implementing a campaign – it’s better to buy 100 ads spread across five platforms reaching 50 percent of your audience if the total is 500,000 impressions than 100 ads on one platform reaching 75 percent of your audience if the total is 10,000 impressions. Taking into consideration consumer habits and consumption, having your campaign run in multiple forms of media may give the impression of a larger spend, hit the consumer on multiple platforms, and build the brand confidence by being included on media that the consumer already values or is loyal to.

Because of fragmentation, programmatic media buying driven by data continues to change media buying, pushes pricing and limits availability. We specifically combat this for clients by finding unique ways to break through that clutter while maximizing your budget, targeting the right audience for your goals and driving your key messages and calls-to-action for results.

If it’s time to evaluate your approach and ensure you’re using fragmentation to your advantage, call us for a marketing audit and analysis!



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 or email



I recently saw a video entitled, “What if money was no object,” narrated by Alan Watts. The imagery was compelling, and coupled with the catchy accent of the narrator, helped resonate it’s important key message and takeaway – life is too short to spend it doing something you don’t enjoy.

It’s the start of a new year. With 2012 our past, and 2013 our future, it’s the perfect moment to take advantage and get inspired to think about change. Some people are change-averse, while others welcome it with open arms. As we begin this new year, it’s a great time to reflect on the past year or two (or ten) and analyze if you are heading in the direction you had hoped – whether it pertains to yourself, your business, your brand, and/or how you want to be perceived.

Could this be the year that you push the envelope and modernize? Maybe tackle a new market or expand your service or product offerings? Refresh or update the brand you’ve kept since your company’s inception? As time, trends and your customers change, your business strategy needs to account for these changes.

Refining your business strategy, key messages or brand does not have to mean a complete overhaul of everything you’ve established. Rather, it can be more of a refinement of how you identify and present your business to your target audience, and among the competition. What makes you unique, different, a benefit? Why are you trusted, savvy or the expert in your field? In order to stay in competition you have to be the competition. Keeping your business strategy on target and staying tapped in to your position in the market is essential in understanding your marketing and branding strategy, and analyzing your success in accomplishing the goals of your business.

Below are items to consider as you evaluate your branding position and business strategy, as well as your plans on what you intend to accomplish in 2013 and beyond.

Relevancy – Consider the relevancy of your brand or business – externally and internally. Does your brand encompass the business strategy now and how you intend to be perceived now and in the future?

Growth – Does your business have multiple entities or pieces? Consider uniting them under a single brand mark or name. Sometimes, growth warrants change. If your business has expanded over the years, it may be time to refine a stronger brand representing your success. Key messaging may need tweaking with your growth.

Audience – Consider the audience of your business. Does your company want to tap into a new market? Is the current brand suitable for that audience? Changing the business location or new product offerings or services warrants a look into your overall business strategy and goals.

Handling your business goals and branding strategically is a necessity. Making a change can be difficult, but if made with trust and a thorough plan can mean a world of difference.

Take a moment and enjoy the video. Catch a little inspiration and consider what change could mean to you. It might be time for a refinement of your strategy – look back at your one year, five year or ten year plan. Where are you in your plan and how have you performed? Maybe it’s time to breathe some new life into your business or brand. Get inspired by 2013 and make an impact for the years to come!


Thriving brands recognize the importance of Facebook and engaging its audiences and connecting with people interested in their product or service to reach a large audience. Facebook gives businesses the potential to share content and to grow awareness and recognition of their brand. For a lot of brands, Facebook really is grassroots marketing and a word-of-mouth opportunity to gain attention for your products or services. If one person on Facebook interacts with your business, all of their friends have the opportunity to see that interaction, snowballing your reach.

It doesn’t take a savvy marketer to launch a successful presence on Facebook. Honest interactions and a handle on your brand are a good place to start. A few other tips we’ve picked up when using Facebook as a tool to build brands:


1. Be consistent in content

Not only in the content you post, but also in your imagery. Ensure the messages you post are consistent with the brand message you include on your brochures, website, commercials, billboards, radio, in your office and verbally face-to-face.

  • Not every single post needs to be specifically about your product, service or business—but see if you can somehow relate it back to something relevant to your business or that your fans would be interested in.
  • When applicable, utilize your business logo or messaging could be included on imagery you post. This ensures that if one of your fans ‘shares’ the post, the friends of that person will know where the content came from and may like your page too.
  • Learn the dimensions of the different Timeline areas such as the cover photo, profile image, highlighted post and page window. It is a big turnoff if someone comes to your page and the logo is cutoff in the profile picture or content is covered up in the cover image by the profile picture box.

Some third-party Facebook apps allow businesses to create customized pages including welcome pages, video channels, polls/contests, Instagram feeds, Twitter feeds and more. Pages can create a fully branded page with whatever content they want and set that as the default ‘Home’ screen for visitors to their page. This is basically another outlet for you to share customized content, like your website and brochure.


2. Learn tricks and tips

Facebook recently introduced a scheduling tool, allowing users to set messages to post in advance. Scheduling ensures you don’t have to worry about keeping up with Facebook while you’re on the road, traveling, in meetings or elsewhere. Brands can set up the social media for the day or even the week and let it post on schedule.Still, take note of timing.

  • Be responsive to inquiries and comments.
  • Take note of when your posts get the most interaction. Sometimes, the best time to post is when you or an employee is not in the office Monday thru Friday 8-5. A lot of people utilize Facebook in the evenings, early in the morning and on weekends.
  • Utilize new Timeline tools such as ‘pin to top,’ for current messaging or promotions, ‘highlighting,’ allowing the message to span across the full Timeline window and ‘reposition photo,’ allowing the user to adjust what part of the image shows up in the preview.

Know that it’s okay to check out other pages. Learn what your competitors or other top Facebook brands are doing and see if you can generate a campaign that makes sense for your business. Sports teams often watch video of their opponents before playing them to see how they could improve themselves—it’s no different for checking out other brands on Facebook.


3. Know your audience

Take advantage of the  insights tool, a great, and sometimes, eye-opening feature Facebook offers to pages. If one of your social media managers is a 24-year-old male, make sure he knows that 55% of the 14,000 likes to one of your brand’s pages are females aged 35-64, and 72% of the total being female. Your message should then match your audience.

This is an actual occurrence on our Facebook page. It makes sense, as those looking to spend a vacation or trip in Wine Country are the women who are trying to plan a trip with their loved one, family or girlfriends. Once you figure out the audience, it might change the type of content you post and how you write the messaging.

The insights tool also allows you to set goals for the number of followers, interactions or overall reach for your page or individual posts. Figure out realistic goals, and set new milestones once you achieve them.


4. Change things up

In order to generate more revenue, Facebook allows businesses to promote themselves even further through Facebook ads and promoted posts. Both can be used effectively with the right tactics. Advertising on Facebook is not just for businesses with deep pockets either, with tools allowing users to set daily or monthly budget limits and provide filters allowing you to choose your target audience.

Facebook recently changed its news feed algorithm for showing business page content causing a decline in interaction. Unfortunately, less people are seeing business posts in their news feed. In order for a post to be more likely to show up in fans news feed, they need to have previous interaction with your page. The Facebook algorithm knows if a fan has never or rarely commented on your photos, shared a post or liked a post, so your content will be less likely to show up for that person. So, in order to spread your brand further, you must generate interaction with your posts.

Realizing businesses were mad about this new trend, Facebook launched the promoted posts feature—allowing business to pay for their posts to be seen. Similar to Facebook advertising, this could help your brand get a kick-start to gaining attention and interaction. If you pay for a few posts and get people to interact with a post, your future posts will be more likely to be seen by them. Businesses or brands could have thousands of likes on their page, but if interaction is down and nobody is seeing their content, what is the point? Monitor the virality of your posts to ensure the content you are generating is getting seen, or something needs to change.

Businesses should also change the cover image on the page occasionally, as it would become stale to repeat visitors if left alone. Utilize seasonal imagery, promotions, different products or different branding images for the cover photo.


Stay up to date on trends, rules, new tricks or features with Facebook to ensure your business continues to build an audience and become more successful.

 Social Media Services


Seen and not heard


The presidential debates take over mainstream media coverage every year with all the major talking heads on speed dial for extensive post-coverage on body language, speech patterns and even the size of lapel pins.

So much is said about what is not actually spoken, it really emphasizes the power of body language.

President Nixon’s White House tapes recently revealed his disappointment in his performance at the first-ever televised debate with then Senator John F. Kennedy. According to the TIME Magazine article “How the Nixon-Kennedy Debate Changed the World, ” Kayla Webley notes “…those who listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon had won. But those listeners were in the minority… Those that watched the debate on TV thought Kennedy was the clear winner. Many say Kennedy won the election that night.”

That’s because Nixon’s sweaty and stiff demeanor came across negatively to the American public viewers, while Kennedy’s smooth style elicited a Presidential confidence.

The TIME magazine article goes on to quote Larry Sabato, political analyst at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia: ‘”Before the television debates most Americans didn’t even see the candidates — they read about them, they saw photos of them,” he told TIME. “This allowed the public to judge candidates on a completely different basis.” It’s a reality that continues to influence campaigns today. “When parties are considering their candidates they ask: Who would look better on TV? Who comes across better? Who can debate better?” Sabato says. “This has been taken into the calculus.”’

While it is likely Governor Romney and President Obama have the top body language experts prepping them before every match, even these well-trained public figures have their moments. Perhaps reaction to body language quirks is best captured in social media – we all need to enjoy a little chuckle as we lead up to casting our vote for Commander in Chief! Check out Buzzfeed’s “23 Best Twitter Reactions To The Final Presidential Debate” for some great commentary!

When we issue media training to any of our clients, we always include a body language and speech pattern analysis. To build trust in your audience, it’s important that your style comes across as confident, yet caring – humble, yet strong.

For some great tips on body language, check out PRNews’“Body Language is Right Out of the PR Handbook” which analyses Vice President Joe Biden’s body language performance in the vice presidential debate.


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


Just in time for the presidential election, Twitter has recently launched a new service called Twitter Political Index or Twindex. Unlike information provided by traditional polling companies, Twindex harnesses the power of Twitter’s massive user date to monitor and report on users’ moods to provide real-time presidential candidate trends. Using an established baseline, Twitter’s data partner Topsy, analyzes tweets from users on our presidential candidates, monitors sentiment, compares the two candidates and assigns a point value to each.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, Twitter user data does actually reflect the public/voter trends –  proven during this past year’s primaries. Twitter saw trends in user activity supporting Mitt Romney, while Rick Santorum’s declined – and look who’s representing the GOP now.

So what does this mean? Are we headed into an age where technology will impede further into the traditional election process? Will electoral votes need to be gathered if we can process data aggregately? That’s probably unlikely, but technology really is proving to show a new era of data collection and endless uses for it. With more and more users of social media expressing opinions and providing feedback, the ability for organizations – political, commercial, nonprofit, etc. – to use this data and learn from it, such as adjusting key messages, branding and public perception, is amazing.

Nonetheless, whether you’re blue or red, donkey or elephant, this year’s election will prove to be an exciting one and you have an even greater ability to be part of the process!

Check it out! How do you feel about Romney and Obama? Ask the ‘Twindex’