The end of the year often serves as a time for reflection and after a year celebrating our silver anniversary, I find myself looking ahead to the future and imagining what the world, industry and this company might look like during our golden anniversary in 2046.

In these first 25 years of business, I witnessed how the push to digital and the use of social media created a tectonic shift in the media landscape for advertising and public relations professionals. I remember in the early years of A. Bright Idea, a client offered to pay for a website design, and I didn’t think websites were needed by everyone. Today, potential customers/clients decide if they want to do business with you just by looking at your website.

I’m proud of our collection of client success stories from the past 25 years and feel it’s a testament to our ability to transform our methods and meet client needs.


Reaching that 50-year milestone will represent a lifetime’s worth of work from a 26-year-old thinking she just needed something temporary until her next job came along. The majority of the past 25 years have not felt like work because of all the joy it brings, which I hope is still the case in whatever capacity I’m in down the road.

I hope to still be working with lots of my friends and even see my kids involved in the business, although hopefully I’m not working as hard then as I am now – that’s what the next generation is for. I can’t wait to see how A. Bright Idea’s history continues to blossom and define a meaningful legacy.


One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far is to not get overwhelmed or panic. If you can stop looking at things so broadly and focus on what you have to do next, you’ll get through any challenging time. Whatever the future may hold, I look forward to seeing how the journey continues.

Dear Anita,

It’s me, Anita, 25 years into the future.

It is August 2021, marking A. Bright Idea’s 25th anniversary. As I sit at home writing this letter, I can’t help but laugh thinking about our number one goal back in 1996: move the business out of the house and into an office. Spending this milestone back where the journey began certainly feels like a full circle moment and leaves me reflecting on the past 25 years with pride, gratitude and every other emotion under the sun.

Not to worry though, we did get out of the spare bedroom. In fact, we exceeded our goal by opening three locations from Maryland to California. Finding myself working back at home the majority of last year (don’t ask) truly showed me how far we’ve come. Gone are the days of individually doing all the client work during the day and all the billing, networking and proposals at night. While these temporary challenges made me uncomfortable in the moment, it’s what made me stronger and the businesswoman I am today.

Considering we thought this was just a temporary option before our next job, you may be surprised to know we reached our “silver” year. From having no one to bounce ideas off of, to achieving 10 employees to now collaborating with 35+ innovators and integrators within our full-service agency, I’m proud of the marks we’ve made and continue to make on the industry.

While enjoying the success, remember how lucky we are to reach this milestone and that it’s not just for us. Our success serves as its own little ecosystem supporting dozens of individuals and families. It really has supported our family too. That guy you met in high school and married; he’ll be joining you 10 years from now once the heavy lifting is over to share in the spotlight. It means a tremendous amount to see how your little idea now creates an opportunity for someone who is going to be a parent or an opportunity for someone to work closer to home so they can spend more time with their kids and family. These are the same things we wanted for our family. Speaking of family, it’s good you moved out of that guest bedroom because you’ll need it in a few years. Baby Madison gets a brother.

Knowing what I do today, here’s the biggest pieces of advice I can offer…

Who would have thought our little one-woman operation would go from the smallest ember of inspiration to bright ideas radiating out from sea to shining sea. Remember to take time to recognize your accomplishments and not get lost in the moment. Trust me, it all works out in the end.

Keep on shining,

The entrepreneurial spirit of this country amazes me, especially as A. Bright Idea reflects on 25 years in business. The women entrepreneurs who came before me, in many ways, helped me and this agency reach this milestone.

At age 26, I launched A. Bright Idea without any expectation it would last a quarter century. After all, longevity eludes most small businesses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 25% of new businesses make it to their 15-year anniversary.

In our formative years, quite a few people were instrumental, offering their support or guidance on building this company. People like Micky Morales, George Heidelmaier, Beth Cohen, Tina Ripken and Jack Novak were some of my earliest friends and mentors. Many of them have retired and some of them have passed but they provided me invaluable wisdom on how to beat the odds as a small business — and a woman-owned small business at that.

I am not the first woman to start a business and succeed, and I can say, with all confidence, I won’t be the last. The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported the number of American woman-owned small businesses rose by 2.8% to over 1.1 million. That trend surely continues or may well accelerate as time goes on. I’m honored to be in a position to pay forward the wisdom I received to help them succeed.

As part of our Silver & Shine anniversary celebrations, I wanted to share some the lessons others taught me and that have worked well for A. Bright Idea over these past 25 years. Whether you’re a women-owned small business or not, I have a few thoughts for those of you on a similar journey.

First and foremost, build a network of resources. You don’t need to have all the answers, but have relationships with vendors, colleagues and friends that can point you in the right direction. Most of the relationships you build usually happen intentionally, but some of the best ones often occur accidentally. Take the time to get to know people in social and business settings and invite serendipity.

When it comes to client or customer relations, find a way to say ‘yes.’ Meaning, remain flexible because clients stay or return because of customer service.

Next, little is possible without good, talented people on your team. Focus on hiring the right people for the right jobs and treat them with care and respect. Success happens as a result of collective effort.

Set out creating a strong culture. Whether you act as a sole proprietor or have one or more employees, your company culture serves as a conduit between your brand and your clients and can help boost productivity.

Lastly, but far from least, focus on making sure your branding hits the mark. Yes, A. Bright Idea is a creative agency, so branding is our bread and butter, but I cannot stress the importance of this aspect of building your business enough. Make it a priority to seek a consultant, if your resources allow.

While I could write volumes about the company I poured my heart and soul into for half my life, I want to hear from you. What challenges do you face? How can my and my team’s experiences help you? Reach out to us at

As a business owner, your list of to-do’s remains as endless as your email inbox. Dedicating time to marketing efforts like telling your brand story or reaching new audiences with advertising or social media just doesn’t feel like it’s in the cards. Maybe it’s not; don’t get overwhelmed or frustrated and give up. Instead, look to an agency to lend a hand, taking the marketing burden off your plate.

Agencies come in many forms. Some specialize in a few niche areas like graphic design and digital marketing, while others provide a full range of services. Regardless of their specialties, agencies want to help you meet your goals. Agencies work with businesses of all sizes, with just about all industries and can manage projects ranging from seasonal marketing needs to long term integrated marketing campaigns.

So, where do you start? While you may have started your search for your perfect agency, the guide below answers some of the biggest questions and concerns holding businesses back from looking for that much-needed support.

1. I don’t have a marketing budget.
You are spending resources on marketing, whether you realize it or not. The time to network, sponsor community events and organizations, and keep on top of social media all cost you something. An agency helps you prioritize and maximize your presence, allowing you to do what you do best — your business.

2. I don’t have time to explain my business to others.
Agencies ask the right questions and take advantage of experiences to understand your business, industry, market and competition. It’s the agency’s job to share insights and ideas aimed at accomplishing your business goals.

3. Marketing, social media, advertising…it all changes so fast I just can’t keep up.
So true. Robust agency teams keep up with trends and best practices, so you don’t have to. As experts, they constantly scan the horizon for new and emerging tools and techniques to get in front of your audience, build your brand and get that ROI.

4. Word of mouth works for me, why change?
Good. An agency will give you a menu of recommendations for how to leverage all the word of mouth referrals you’re getting into look alike customers and build on those. You will also receive recommendations based on the agency’s past experience supporting clients just like you, for advertising, social media, website design and more.

5. I’ve always been treated like a small fish when working with agencies.
Their loss. Clearly, those agencies just didn’t fit with your business. Now you know what you don’t want, you can seek out the type of agency you do want. The ideal agency treats you with respect, shows interest in your business and seeks to foster a collaborative relationship with you.

6. I’m only one person. I have a lot on my plate.
Copy that. A full-service agency can take all of the marketing, advertising, video, website, social media, public relations and, of course, design work off your plate. Great full-service agencies offer teams dedicated to overarching disciplines. And, within those teams exist project managers, copywriters, strategic planners, designers, website developers and others allowing more collaboration and a better, more integrated final product.

The bottom line
Marketing your business remains an important component to its success and a full- service agency can provide the guidance, strategy and creative solutions needed to help you be successful.

Are you ready to take your marketing and communications efforts to the next level? If you have any questions about your needs, say hello! We’d love to help you.

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.”

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.

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

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When I came across the above quote, I felt a strong connection to how much it relates to my working in a fast-paced creative agency. Every day you get thrown various situations, but how you choose to react to those situations serves as the catalyst for your success.

When approaching new tasks, we inherently seek guidance from others to layout step-by-step directions because creating a sense of familiarity makes us comfortable. The sense of accomplishment, however, feels much stronger when it stems from pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Your ability to get comfortable starts with recognizing the point at which you transition from uncomfortable to stressed.


Many mistakenly identify feeling uncomfortable with feeling stressed. Stress, real stress, comes from situations beyond our control, often involving family, health or livelihood. When I experienced a significant earthquake while waiting for a plane in Los Angeles – that was real stress. Similar to what I witnessed during the 2017 California wildfires in Sonoma and the devastating fires in Los Angeles County, in a moment’s notice people became displaced, injured and left with a real sense of raw vulnerability. Despite practicing emergency preparedness drills and thinking I knew what to do in these situations, I realized I was far less in control than imagined.

While stressful situations reach beyond our control, everyone can take ownership of an uncomfortable situation and set their own path forward. Stay focused on the big picture and tackle the project one step at a time to easily identify where you feel most uncomfortable, so you can move toward a stronger level of comfort for future tasks. Tackling uncomfortable situations brings personal/professional growth to help you become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

I knew I wanted to explore the concept of “getting comfortable being uncomfortable” with the rest of the ABI team, so I made it the theme of our annual employee summit. Each team member wrote down one thing that makes them comfortable at work and one that makes them uncomfortable. Through an open group discussion, we found similarities among our answers, and in a few instances, discovered what one person identifies as comfortable, another found uncomfortable. Some answers on both ends of the spectrum included public speaking, multitasking and working under pressure.

During our discussions, I shared another story of feeling uncomfortable – when A. Bright Idea received its first government contract as prime contractor. For many years prior, we executed public affairs support for our commercial clients and got comfortable serving as a sub-contractor for larger government accounts. Our hesitation to apply as a prime contractor stemmed from a feeling of uncertainty in not knowing all of the answers and we did not feel fully prepared to navigate the entire process ourselves. Though we faced many new and uncomfortable tasks to take on this new challenge, we pulled our resources, asked a lot of questions and figured it out. The risk was worth the reward.

That singular experience allowed A. Bright Idea to evolve into the 23-year-old, full-service agency we are today with over 45 employees serving clients coast to coast.

Life brings unknown obstacles to navigate, but how you choose to move forward determines the confidence and knowledge you’ll bring to future tasks. Change can be uncomfortable, but real opportunities for transformation rise from the unknown.

“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.

Often in life, we spend so much time working on the next project we forget to stop and take stock of our achievements. A 20th anniversary seems a good time to take pause and reflect. As I look around me, I see the walls of my Bel Air office and the hallways of the building covered in the national, regional and local awards we’ve won at A. Bright Idea. More important to me, however, remains the continued trust clients freely offer us to help them continue to succeed. I take pride in the achievements of A. Bright Idea over the past 20 years and the bright future ahead. I started alone.

In August 1996, I began A. Bright Idea with the simple desire to use my talents creatively and to their fullest potential. I decided to leave the corporate world behind and create my own business. It was not the safe choice with a newborn daughter, an uncertain economic situation and no prior experience as an entrepreneur.

With confidence in my abilities and a desire to approach things differently than in the corporate world, I flipped their contracting business model. Instead of hiring people to meet contract requirements only to eliminate positions when contracts ended, I decided to build a talented team and find multiple clients we could support.

During this journey, several key people played a role in building our success. My thankfulness to them remains everlasting. Here are just a few who helped along the way:

  • TJ, my husband, for planting the seed of starting my own business and always serving as my biggest supporter and cheerleader. He brought considerable marketing and management experience (as well as his best friend, Chad Mitchell, as our CFO) when they joined the team a decade ago.
  • Gary McCormick, APR, Fellow PRSA, for hiring me out of college, exposing me to the Public Relations Society of America, and the government contracting arena and the PageMaker design software.
  • Dan Simmons, owner of Continental Search and Outplacement Inc., trusted me to help his business, and as I know from personal experience, a business represents more than just where we work – it represents our dreams and our time. Twenty years later, I still appreciate the trust and advice he bestowed.
  • The late Miguel “Mickey” Morales, then the public affairs officer for the former Soldier Biological Chemical Defense Command, pushed me to apply for the federal 8(a) certification program. I listened and was accepted into the business development program in 2006 and graduated last year.
  • John O’Brien and Jacob Cheiffo from the Office of Small Business Programs at Aberdeen Proving Ground for helping us get in front of government clients and demonstrate our capabilities.
  • Rosita Carosella, small business program associate director for the Defense Logistics Agency, for supporting us in the transition from a subcontractor to a prime contractor, which helped propel us in the right direction at the right time to allow us to grow at a sustainable rate.

This list above doesn’t even begin to capture the level of support I’ve received throughout the years from numerous professionals, clients, partners and friends.

The spark that began in my spare-bedroom-turned-office now serves as a beacon to draw others eager to perform to their fullest potential as creative verbal and visual communicators.

Nearly 40 people – Bright Lights as we call them – make up the A. Bright Idea team today. A. Bright Idea operates with team members in three states and maintains offices on the East and West Coast. I take pride in creating a space where they can do good work and find creative solutions for our clients. The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” As we mark the 20th anniversary milestone of A. Bright Idea, our team uplifts each other and uplifts me. We work closely together, taking advantage of the diversity of our talents and experience to push our work to the next level. We’re supportive. We provide assistance to our clients and to each other, offering help, guidance and advice in areas critical to their success. We’re proactive. We take risks and look for opportunities to support the end goal, solving problems and building creative solutions without fear.

I look forward to the next 20 years with the same excitement and desire as I did that August morning in 1996 when the future lay brightly before me.