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Anita Brightman Elected to the PRSA College of Fellows

Now That’s ‘a. Bright idea!’

Submitted by Shafiyq Hinton

Anita Brightman, APR

Anita Brightman, APR

Anita A. Brightman, APR, Fellow PRSA heads one of Maryland’s leading public relations agencies, “A. Bright Idea,” and her hard work has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this month, PRSA elected Brightman and others with at least 20 years of accredited public relations experience to its College of Fellows. Only 2% of PRSA members are part of this distinguished group. This year marks the 25th anniversary celebration of the designation and 15 PR professionals will be inducted during the PRSA national conference in October.

Brightman, who has been a member of PRSA-MD since 2002, said election to the College of Fellows validates her work. “It’s proof that we’re doing quality work here and bringing real value to our small business and government accounts,” she added.

A. Bright Idea was launched in August of 1996 as a one-woman firm based in Brightman’s home. Today, this PR agency has grown to two offices in Bel Air, Md., and a third on the west coast in Sonoma, Ca. Brightman’s firm maintains an extensive portfolio with clients that include The United States Army, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Napa Valley Museum, Bel Air Town Center, Baltimore City Schools and PRSA-MD.

Many may think that being elected to such a distinguished group as the PRSA College of Fellows would jolt one’s career. Not for Brightman. Her eyes are set on something more important – helping others. “I didn’t need to be accepted for advancement,” Brightman said. “This is not a career launcher. This election shows my entire staff that there’s always something more you can do. So, don’t be complacent. Always strive to self-improve.”

Brightman described the PRSA College of Fellows’ application process as somewhat intimidating. “It was not an easy process,” she recalled. “I was eligible to apply last year, but did encounter some issues. There were questions as to whether I qualified for 20 years of pure public relations work.”

To successfully complete the application, Brightman needed to get six letters of recommendation and condense 20 years of work experience and references into eight pages. “That was the hardest part,” Brightman said. “You must be concise.”

As a new fellow, Brightman now hopes to inspire others to invest in themselves and the profession, demonstrating anything worth having is definitely worth the effort.

For more information on the PRSA College of Fellow inductees, visit PRSA Newsroom.




Meet Anita Brightman, APR, 2014 VP & Membership Chair, PRSA-MD

By: Maddie Brightman

ABrightman(blog post)When not coordinating membership, speaking at a public relations or government contracting conference, or attending a monthly board meeting, Anita Brightman serves as the President at her own advertising and public relations agency in Bel Air, Maryland.

Anita started A. Bright Idea 17 years ago in what is now her 11 year old’s Star Wars themed bedroom. She watched her business grow from a one-woman shop, to a thriving enterprise with over 30 employees and offices on both the East and West Coast.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Anita’s dream of a public relations career began right here in Charm City. At the age of 13, Anita started her life’s passion, providing public relations services for her father and his colleagues at Armco Steel. Carrying on her training through branding, writing, strategic planning, and pleading the case of the underdog, Anita developed her PR skills and found her calling in the professional world.

Anita attended public school in Baltimore City including the all-female Western High School.  She graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in mass communication, and later earned her masters in publication design at the University of Baltimore. Still a strong supporter of her alma mater, Anita currently serves as the professional advisor for the Towson University PR group.

Seven years after beginning A. Bright Idea, Anita received her Accreditation in Public Relations and recently submitted an application to the PRSA College of Fellows.

Anita began her professional public relations career in the defense sector, supporting the U.S. Army chemical weapons disposal program. As a government public affairs contractor, she spent her days writing and collaborating with various graphic artists on logo concepts, newsletters, brochures and exhibits. Anita still works on this project today, along with many other government clients including, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Defense Education Activity and the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, among others.

A recipient of many awards during her 21 years in the business, she uses a creative and personable approach to generate success for both herself and A. Bright Idea. Some of Anita’s notable achievements include the 2007 Harford Award, Top 100 Minority Business Enterprises in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and the American Communication Professionals Spotlight Award. Anita and her team have also been consistent winners at PRSA Maryland’s Best in Maryland Awards.

Outside of professional life, Anita enjoys spending time with her family. Her daughter is following in her footsteps studying communications at Penn State and her son is an aspiring actor.  The family has a pair of Dalmatians that are always at Anita’s feet.

A tasting dish Anita prepared for friends and family

A tasting dish Anita prepared for friends and family

Anita loves to garden and to cook.  Channeling her home-life role model, Martha Stewart, Anita is never afraid to try bold recipes in the kitchen. While baking is not her specialty (she always burns the bottom of baked goods), many love her coq au vin, veal chops, artichoke dip, or braised short ribs.

In a throwback to her goth filled teen years, Anita is an avid fan of 80’s music, Anita has been caught singing along to Billy Idol or Duran Duran when driving her children from event to event. Not a stranger to the sports field, Anita spends countless hours on the sidelines cheering on her kids, Madison and Parker as their biggest fan.

One of four girls, Anita enjoys spending time with her sisters. Also cooks, she and her sisters frequently share recipes and try new recipes on the family.

Anita and husband, T.J. in Sonoma, California

Anita and husband, T.J. in Sonoma, California

When it’s time to relax, Anita likes to clean. She loves to vacuum! However, when she really takes a break, Anita and her husband of 20 years, T.J., enjoy spending time in their Bel Air, Maryland backyard or on the West Coast surrounded by the vineyards of Sonoma County. Anita can be found enjoying some of her favorite California wines accompanied with a plate of cheese and charcuterie.


Submitted by David Harrison, 2013 Best In MD Committee Chair

Come celebrate with us on December 5 as we breathe new life into an old PRSA MD tradition, the Best in Maryland Awards Gala.

Oh yeah — BIM is BACK!!

Our keynote speaker will be WBAL TV sports director and voice of the Baltimore Ravens Gerry Sandusky. And our evening will be emceed by former FOX morning anchor Jennifer Gladstone. And our evening will take place in the new and hip Hotel Monaco in Baltimore.

This year more than 50 submissions will vie for the Best in Maryland Awards, The Award of Excellence and Best in Show! Check out who’s nominated!

Come celebrate with us as Helen Szablya, a long time public relations pro and chapter leader is presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. We will also honor the Educator of the Year, and a New Professional of the Year.

And don’t miss this opportunity to network with your peers, new professionals and heavy hitters in the PR arena in Maryland. Hurry, register now, because seats are filling up and we are near capacity!

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A Special Thanks to our Sponsors:



The Write Image


And our trophy sponsor: Crown Trophy

For sponsorship opportunities and table reservations, contact us at info@dev.growsocially.biz



Get Plugged In to the PR Beat…Help PRSA-MD Rock!

Looking to build professional skills? Want to hone your writing or editing? Wish you could add social media manager to your resume? Looking to meet other PR professionals and maybe even your next employer? Need to build your business with new clients?

Yes, getting involved in PRSA-Maryland helps you accomplish any or all of those. What it doesn’t take is a lot of time unless you want it to. There are some small and large ways you can tap the PRSA-Maryland membership. Key opportunities available:

Count the money – Chapter Treasurer works with management office to keep the books in order. Mariner handles all the book-keeping, accounts payable and receivables, and IRS stuff.
Time commitment: The Treasurer reviews all accounts once a month, signs about 2 dozen checks a year and monitors the budget.
[Skill builder: financial management and budgeting]

Plan the Party – our Best In Maryland event chair plans the chapter’s big party of the year – which is moving to November 2013. With a party team, create an evening event that celebrates the Maryland PR profession.  Mariner assists in event logistics and advises on location, catering and related items.
Time commitment: 4-6 months with most of the work leading into the event.
[Skill builder: event planning, event management]

Spotlight the Best – our Best In Maryland awards chair oversees the annual awards programs that culminates in the Best In Maryland event scheduled for November 2013.  The awards are a well-honed project so the role of the chair is really to execute. You will work with a team to review and confirm the award categories, select the theme, prepare the promotional materials and handle the call for entries and oversee the judging.  Mariner assists in entry submissions and related administrative duties as well as handling promotional mailings and coordination.
Time commitment: 3-5 months with an average of 4 hours monthly.
[Skill builder: planning and managing short-term campaigns and projects]

Share the News – our Webnotes e-newsletter keeps members and subscribers in the know on PR happenings in Maryland and PRSA Maryland. The e-letter is published twice monthly and offers up 3-4 short (think under 200 words on average) posts with a few quick updates (like seen on Twitter). The editor is responsible for writing or curating copy and loading it into Mail Chimp (our Web-based tool). Mariner handles the distribution and list management and helps proof.
Time commitment: monthly activity approximately 2-3 hours per issue.
[Skill builder: writing, publication development and management, technology]

Join the Team – the team of members who participate in many ways – small and some larger – to help the chapter rock and to sharpen their skills and broaden their network.  Sign up to be on the team and tell us what you like to do. We’ll call you. We need submissions for the e-letter, blog posts, event greeters, promotional copy writing, graphic design, award judges, and people to join the Best In Maryland, Chesapeake Conference and other project teams.
Time commitment: from a hour or two to a day … let us know what you can give!
[Skill builder: just about any professional skill – including networking!]

Interested? Simply email Nneka Jenkins or info@dev.growsocially.biz.

2011 PRSA MD Best In Maryland a resounding success!

This year’s Best In Maryland reception was held at the 1840s Ballroom, a beautiful venue with outstanding service. Guest entered through a gated courtyard where staff directed them upstairs to the 1840s Carroll Salon. The evening started off with a chance to networking and dig into some delicious food and drink catered by Hunt Valley Catering.

The Best in Maryland awards portion was opened with a few words from Katie Mercado, our vice president and Best In Maryland co-chair, who welcomed everyone reminding us that this is the 50th anniversary of Best In Maryland. She gave us a quick recap of what Best In Maryland means to our chapter, and thanked the board of directors and the BIM committee for their hard work in planning this year’s reception. She also acknowledged Dave Imre of IMRE for his continuing support of PRSA Maryland, and our go-to photographer Bob Stockfield of Stockfield Photography. (Check out our photos of who came at Gallery of faces and who won at Gallery of awards photos.)

The awards were presented by Reagan Warfield of the Mix 106.5 Morning Show, who did a great job announcing the winners while delighting the crowd with his charm, and Katie Mercado, who handed out the awards to each winner (Katie got her picture taken quite a bit that night!). During the ceremony, Reagan pointed out that this year we added new categories and streamlined others making the competition tougher—and more interesting—than ever. Several of our categories had a large number of entries with Story Placement leading in number received. For a detailed list of all winners, go to 2011 Best In Maryland Award Winners!.

We then turned to the New Professional of the Year award. Eleni Polites from Weber Shandwick took this honor, a complete surprise for Eleni who had no idea she was even nominated. It was fun watching her realize she was the recipient as Reagan read her bio. And it was even better when she discovered we had been hiding her family in the corner where they waited eagerly for her chance to shine.

The Lifetime Achievement award was presented by Gene Bracken (the 2010 recipient) to Jacqueline Lampell of Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.  Jacqui was nominated by her co-workers for her professionalism and dedication to excellence within her field. Her nomination was lauded by other seasoned professionals, especially Gene who was honored to present her with the award.

The final two awards of the evening were announced last. The Best Representation of Theme is presented to the entry that best exemplifies the current theme, and this year’s went to Baltimore Gas and Electric’s  for BGE Smart Energy Savers Program Marketing.

The Best In Show is presented to the most outstanding entry in the Program category. This year, the honor went to Catholic Relief Services for their The Haiti Earthquake: Catholic Relief Services Responds to a Major Disaster. The crowd erupted into cheers when the announcement was made. John Rivera accepted the award on behalf of his staff, lauding their continuing dedication to the CRS mission.

After the awards presentation, the evening continued with an array of yummy desserts and the chance to continue the celebration.

Finally, we’d be negligent if we didn’t thank our judges—the Rochester Chapter of PRSA—who said they were impressed by quality of the entries. We thank them sincerely for their hard work.

Winners: Additional awards may be ordered by clicking here. All orders must be received by COB Wednesday July 6, 2011.

–Industry News