Blog

Abby Breckenridge

Marketer by trade and manager by passion, Abby has made it her mission to empower her team so they can deliver their best work to clients. She prefers working with whole people who aren’t afraid to bring their creativity to the table.

Partner | LinkedIn

04/23/2020

Creating can’t-look-away videos in an era of social distancing

By: Abby Breckenridge

A collage of film strip, smart phone, scissors, and graphical flourishes.

Did you have plans to create an awesome video case study for your upcoming conference, or an explainer video to tell customers how to get started? Well, your plans have been changed. In an age of distancing we’re not gathering film crews and talent to make marketing videos, it’s just not essential. But there are some good alternatives, and we’d love to help. 

Combine amateur footage with a
professional edit

We’re all spending a lot of time looking at low-quality video of our friends and colleagues talking into the computer—so lean into it. Piece together footage from customers, partners, or subject matter experts, and make a compelling story from afar. We’ll work with you on a concept, point you to some helpful equipment, prep your speakers, edit your footage, add sounds and graphics, and deliver you a final asset. You’ll be amazed at what a professional edit can do to turn your homegrown footage into a powerful, customer-ready video.

Spruce up your webcast

There’s a lot we can do to make a webcast more engaging for the viewer. And these remote events can be the perfect stand-in for that video you just can’t make right now. Start with your customer need, add an expertly crafted talk track, engaging slides, a professional voiceover, some animated transitions, and you have yourself a watch-worthy show.

Make an animation

When live-action footage isn’t available—and even when it is—animation is powerful tool to make your stories mesmerizing. Switch gears away from live-action footage and embrace the power of a well-crafted animation. Your words have more sticking power when they’re choreographed together with illustration, voiceover, and music. And your audience won’t be able to look away.

Your video plans have changed but don’t let that stop you from making a powerful marketing tool your prospects and customers can watch online.

04/03/2020

Let’s get virtual—hosting captivating events from afar

By: Abby Breckenridge

Let’s get virtual—hosting captivating events from afar

Switching your in-person event to a virtual one is this season’s must-have marketing move. Everyone’s doing it. So how do you make your webinar a showstopper? Here are our top tips to ensure success.

  1. Invest in getting people there. Send multiple, targeted email invitations and drive them to an engaging registration page with clear takeaways, ideal attendee personas, well-crafted session descriptions, and presenter photos.
  2. Practice makes better. A virtual event can still run into the same logistical kinks as an in-person experience. Be sure to gather all your presenters together for a dry run beforehand, and practice hand-offs between speakers.
  3. Agree on a presenter dress code. Just because it’s virtual, doesn’t mean we can’t see you! When you have multiple presenters, it’s nice to standardize the mood so someone doesn’t show up in a robe broadcasting from their closet, then hand it off to a colleague in a tie.
  4. Anticipate more attendees. It’s far cheaper to send 30 people to an online event than on a plane across the country, so make sure you track registration counts, confirm your online meeting platform can handle high traffic, and give your IT department a heads up—nothing says failure like a mid-session app crash.
  5. Keep sessions short. People get distracted more quickly when they have the whole internet at their fingertips, so limit sessions to 30 minutes.
  6. Plan for too short. Talks tend to tick along more quickly when the speakers don’t have the energy of an in-person audience. Presenters won’t know if their joke leads to chuckles, so there won’t be pauses for laughter. In case of wrapping early, keep your attendees engaged with a fun break experience and a note about when the next session will start.
  7. Tell breathtaking stories. Talk tracks and slides will carry a heavier load than usual, so don’t skimp. Here are our tips for what’s hot in slides.
  8. Share the screen. It’s most engaging to share a visual mix of the speaker, demos, and their slides—that’ll require a producer on the backend to do it well.
  9. Be ready for questions. Attendees will still want to ask questions and make themselves known to the presenter. Use a moderator to gather and share questions or schedule a Q&A where attendees can queue up to ask in their own voice.
  10. Give your content legs. Plan to share resources like event recordings, decks, whitepapers and other related content to capitalize on the momentum.
  11. Don’t drop the marketing ball. Capture and segment all engagement, then plan your next touchpoint, whether it’s a follow-up email, a private demo, exclusive access to an eBook, or something else.

We’d love to help make your just-turned-virtual event a worthy marketing investment. From start to finish—promotion, registration pages, speaker training, talk tracks, slides, follow-up, and project management—we’ve got your back. Drop us a line.

07/26/2019

We’re throwing a Serious party—here’s why

By: Abby Breckenridge

We’re throwing a Serious party—here’s why

Planning 2A’s Serious Party has us musing on topics like breakthroughs and the Grateful Dead. I’m impressed once again by how creativity leads us down various paths, and I’m getting excited to celebrate traveling down them with our clients and friends on August 1. You should come—it could be fun.

My four-year-old believes that when he squints his eyes and tilts his head just so, he has heat vision—an enviable super-power we’ve learned about from library books. I find myself wishing I had the same confidence in my ability to conjure up a big idea. But for me, creative breakthroughs seem to come along on their own timeline. More like a cat considering my lap than a superhero charging to the rescue.

Pairing the uncertainty of how to generate a big idea on demand with the business need to deliver reliable solutions for our clients might result in taking the easy path—recycling last year’s successes, relying on gimmicks, and following trends. But is any of that worth celebrating? We choose to celebrate the messiness necessary for innovation.

In the Amazon hit Long Strange Trip, Amir Bar-Lev presents an in-depth view of the 30-year career of The Grateful Dead. We see the band grappling with the same issue of how to accomplish day-to-day goals without closing the door to creativity. Their identity and success as a singular touring band relied on their ability to inspire the crowd to dance, but as a values-driven squad, they feared getting trapped into using stale ploys to move an audience. “Once it’s a device,” they said, “it’s frozen.” They took their commitment to creative reinvention seriously. We’re inspired by the Dead’s example even as we occasionally question their fashion choices.

Our task as a professional team of creatives is to walk the line between reliable deliverables and envelope-pushing innovation. We strive to build an engine that delivers results, works quickly, and navigates the realities of clients’ marketing needs, while nurturing a culture that invites new ways of telling stories. We believe we can actively cultivate creativity. We reinforce the practice of celebrating failure. We challenge ourselves with exercises that shake up how we think. We study and discuss work that doesn’t necessarily relate to ours. We learn from others and know that our individual paths are unique. We take the challenge seriously.

As you can see, we’re into taking things seriously—our work for sure, and also our clients, our family, our friends, you. So we decided to throw a seriously fun party that celebrates the long, strange trip ahead. We’d be thrilled for you to join us. But please wear shoes and park the microbus out back.

02/28/2019

The sunny side of bragging

By: Abby Breckenridge

The sunny side of bragging

I’ve had a few conversations with women leaders recently where the story I hear goes something like this: I was doing my job, never thought of myself as a leader, someone else told me how great I was and now here we are. Surprise! I am in charge.

While I’m sure that’s how it happened for some women, I would prefer to paint a different narrative for aspiring leaders. One closer to what my peer Carey Jenkins, CEO of Substantial, shared in a Q&A for Seattle Magazine’s Daring Women series. “I ended last year thinking for the first time, ‘What if I were CEO?’ Within a couple of months, I was in talks for the role.” It’s refreshing to hear a woman leader tell us she believed in herself and made her goals come to life. And it’s essential that we tell the next generation of leaders you don’t need to wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder.

I, like many women, was raised not to brag. There’s certainly some goodness in that lesson—no one wants to hang around people who can’t shut up about how great they are. But (to twist an expression from Anne Lamott) the sunny side of bragging is owning your own strength. It’s saying: I am qualified to weigh in here, I’m up for the debate, and in some cases, here’s why I’d make a great CEO.

As February sees many easing off aggressive New Year’s resolutions to KonMari their basement or detox their beauty routine, we at 2A are homing in on a theme for the year. We’re working toward refining how we talk to our strengths and the value of our work. For us, that’s explaining design decisions, backing up copy choices with strategy, and speaking up when we have tested opinions. We’re calling it demonstrating our worth.

The flip side of that coin is making sure we’re treated fairly and honoring our worth. That’s insisting on fair pricing, communicating the benefits of reasonable timelines, and saying no to projects that just don’t fit.

My partners and I have been helping clients market for over a decade. But we’ve been doing it as 2A for just five years. For us, startup mode helped us build a body of strong work, win and keep exceptional clients, and recruit some of the most talented marketers around. Now—with a team of over 40 consultants, designers, storytellers, PMs, developers, and administrators—we’ve outgrown startup mode.

While creating amazing and effective work for our clients will always be the core of our effort, we also need to nurture a culture that supports creativity and experimentation. This is how we’ll hang on to that team and those clients, and how our work will get even better. It’s time to shirk the imposter syndrome—to stop waiting for someone to tap us on the shoulder—and act like the thriving team we’ve become.

It’s essential for our business to honor and demonstrate our worth. And it’s the next step for us as individuals, for aspiring leaders, and for women who want to take charge.

11/20/2018

Being thankful by speaking up

By: Abby Breckenridge

Being thankful by speaking up

Ally Henny—writer and speaker on the intersection of race, culture, and faith—recently made a bid to her Facebook followers to confront racist comments at Thanksgiving instead of keeping the peace. Her point was that while it certainly is easier to let things slide—whether you change the subject or step outside for a glass of wine—just remember that our kids are watching. And the stories they hear at family gatherings, the stories they see their trusted adults overlook and ignore, will be the stories they remember and perpetuate.

I plan on taking her words seriously this holiday season as I grasp for things we can do to shift our culture. Whether it’s an insensitive comment about a hijab, a dismissal of Central Americans seeking asylum in the US, or a claim that taking a knee to protest police brutality is unpatriotic, I plan to engage.

11/09/2018

How marketing hooked me when I turned 40

By: Abby Breckenridge

How marketing hooked me when I turned 40

I’ve been a marketing consultant in one form or another since the summer of 2007, so I’ve had ample time to field cocktail-party reactions to my profession. On the whole, people aren’t that interested in talking about it—they’d much rather talk to my architect husband about that new library they love than piece through a messaging strategy with me—but when they do speak up their comments are consistent. Non-marketers generally believe that marketing a) is evil, and b) has no effect on them personally. This is when I throw my head back in evil marketing laughter.

As a marketer, of course, my opinions are quite different. I think marketing is only evil some of the time, and successful much of the time. I would have gone through two pregnancies without the best maternity basics if they hadn’t tracked me down on social media, and I have no idea how we would have chosen our HR software if no one had explained its unique benefits.

Definitely successful—and slightly evil—is marketing from the $128B skincare industry. Most of the time it’s designed to make women feel badly about their skin. I used to just shrug off their ads as unrealistic representations of women, but ever since I turned 40 I haven’t been able to shake them as easily.

Just days after my birthday I found myself clicking through headlines like “Drink up and glow,” texting my girlfriend to ask if I should be using an oil-based cleanser, and wanting to learn more about the benefits of alpha and beta hydroxy acids. I’ve applied more face masks in the last 9 months than I have in the rest of my life combined!

How had this drugstore-lotion-using woman been seduced by the anti-feminist engine? What I’ve come to realize is marketing is only one piece of the puzzle. Those confidence-crushing ads inevitably combine with all the other stories out there, from friends, coworkers, and the news. But just as we’re all influenced by stories from many directions, we’re also influencers—contributing to the stories of those around us.

Someone recently said to me that positivity is like perfume on the brain—it’s enchanting and doesn’t hang around for long. Negativity is what gums us up. Let’s be the perfume, shall we?  

09/10/2018

Breaking the silence around workplace discrimination

By: Abby Breckenridge

Breaking the silence around workplace discrimination

(The following is a letter we submitted to the Seattle City Council urging councilmembers to help put an end to workplace discrimination.)

Hearing about Seattle Silence Breakers was like a slap in the face. In the wave of #metoo, I thought for a moment our progressive, liberal community might be immune to the rampant harassment that still plagues women. Turns out I was wrong. Not only did upsetting examples of sexual harassment surface, but the Silence Breakers showed that our own city government was not the safe haven I had expected.

Upholding the rights of everyone in our city is something I believe in and was assured that the City of Seattle believed in it too. After all, the City of Seattle is the body that recognizes my business as women and minority owned. When I took on the role of partner in our growing marketing firm, I was thrilled to join the ranks of hundreds of other driven women business owners who are actively strengthening our economy. The WMBE certification meant our company was changing the face of leadership and fostering an environment for women in business, with the city’s full support behind us. That certification feels tarnished now, and the commitment from the City of Seattle to endorse women as leaders in business, hypocritical.

Why we need to take harassment seriously

Women make up half the population of Seattle, yet our region has one of the largest wage gaps in the U.S. Women in King County make 78.6 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. Sadly, the glass ceiling is a reality in our city, and women are struggling to compete against men in the workforce. When you add sexual harassment into the mix, the gains women have made, are quickly lost. Nearly half the women who experience sexual harassment in the workplace leave their jobs or change careers. This can lead to stagnating careers and setbacks in earning potential. If you want to continue the prosperity our region has seen over the past decade, we need to take harassment seriously and put an end to workplace discrimination.

Why we need to foster women in the workplace

While women are still woefully underrepresented in leadership positions, companies like ours that put women in positions of power often change for the better. One study showed just by having women in C-suite positions (CEO, COO, CFO, for example) they added a 6% net profit margin. When a company’s leadership is uniform, valuable perspectives—and markets—are overlooked. Beyond profits, teams with a balance of men and women show greater psychological safety, team confidence, group experimentation, and team efficiency. It’s time we valued the women on our team—for the sake of our economy, community and sanity.

Why I believe in WMBE distinctions and want to keep it that way

Seattle has made huge progress in growing the number of women-owned businesses, but there’s still more work ahead. Based on the most recent federal data, Seattle had 83,000 companies, of which 30,000 were women-owned. Our city was ranked as a top place for women entrepreneurs in part because of the number of certified women-owned businesses that have already paved the way. The city’s backing of WMBE certification is working—it ensures an equitable playing field for women and it’s making a difference in our community. But we need the city’s full support to continue to realize these benefits. When the city is embroiled in sexual harassment events like those in Seattle City Light, it steals from programs like WBME and puts women back on the losing side.

So to the City of Seattle, please take workplace discrimination against women seriously. It affects us all.

06/01/2018

Homework for a word worker

By: Abby Breckenridge

Homework for a word worker

It had been three years and two days since I had read a book for pleasure. I know that with specificity because it had also been that long since my water had broken with my first child. I had read countless parenting books, New York Times articles, food blogs and Pete the Cat books, but I was in an undisputable pleasure-book drought. 

Packing up my kids to leave a three-year-old’s birthday party, my girlfriend and mother of the guest of honor handed me a well-pawed copy of Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions. “Have you read this? You should.” I grabbed it, shoved it into my basket of diapers and little jackets and brought it home. Then I read it. And I loved it.

It wasn’t so much that the book itself was amazing (which it was), or that it’s premise of recounting the first year of being a mother was speaking directly to me and my needs (which it did), but that I was reminded of a different way of writing—fresh sentence structures, unexpected vocabulary, alternative ways of getting to a point.

As a marketer, I work in words—drafting, scheming, refining to craft stories long and short that help our clients connect with their audiences. My adventure into Anne Lamott’s world reminded me how important it is for my work—and my wellbeing—to read books for pleasure. My creative instinct gets a refresh when I read pieces written for purposes other than drumming up business.

While my life as a business owner, wife, mom of two littles, home cook and occasional exerciser doesn’t leave me a ton of time for pleasure books, I’ve made it my homework to always be working through something interesting on my nightstand. Right now, I am plugging through David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary, a novel written as an alphabetical series of definitions. It’s blowing my mind and making me better at my job. What’s your homework?

09/28/2017

We stand with Casa Latina

By: Abby Breckenridge

We stand with Casa Latina

It’s a dark time for immigration in this country—a country of immigrants. Between threats to Deferred Action to Childhood Arrivals (DACA), this week’s reinvigoration of Trump’s travel ban, and this latest announcement that the Department of Homeland Security plans to collect social media information on all immigrants, it feels like a jarring departure from the values that represent America.

And the darkness is hitting close to home for us this week. Two of our team members have family in Venezuela, which has recently been added to the travel ban. But as the ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero declared, “President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list.”

While the country battles on a policy level, our sanctuary city is fortunate to have organizations like Casa Latina that work on a community level. The group empowers low-wage Latino immigrants to move from economic insecurity to economic prosperity and to lift their voices to act around public policy issues that affect them. We’ve been proud sponsors for years, and given today’s political climate, we’re increasing our support and are looking forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the upcoming gala.

Through organizations like Casa Latina, we can make incremental change against a monolithic policy. We can help the US regain its footing and to borrow a line from Dan Rather, “retain its standing in the world.”

08/24/2017

Flush with growth

By: Abby Breckenridge

2A on the Inc. 5000

I’m eight months pregnant, and if there’s any life event that’ll make you pause and think about growth, it’s building a human. Combine that with last week’s announcement that we’re 686th on the Inc 5000 fastest growing US companies list and you’ve got us reeling down a path of nostalgia, reflecting on all the ways we’ve grown as a business.

When I was pregnant with my now two and a half year old, 2A was renting desks in an old house, sharing space with a talented troupe of creatives. This week, we’re finishing up our second expansion in the Broadway Building. As I headed out on my last maternity leave, Renato and I strategized how to keep our team of 10 busy, happy and productive. This time around, we’re working with a talented line-up of over 30. Our client list has more than tripled, we’ve launched an animation practice, and have a new development team.

In addition to the obvious stats, we’ve grown up in a lot of ways too. We’ve expanded our benefits package to better reflect our values, including a new parental leave policy. We believe that doing great work requires being well, and that it’s the company’s job to be part of that wellness. We spent the summer hashing through and writing down what we’ve learned over the years and launched a consultant training program. And we’ve improved our hiring process, getting clearer about what it takes to be a successful member of our team and sharpening how to find it.

I’m pretty flush in growth right now—myself, my family, the 2A team—and I am feeling grateful for it. As Mark Zuckerberg recently posted on Facebook, it’s important to take time off for new children, and I am pretty sure the office will still be standing when I get back. At this rate, I’m sure it will have grown.