Adrienne Elrod, president of Elrod Strategies and former director of strategic communications for Hillary for America, has built a career out of working for and with politicians. In 2016 Elrod was pivotal in organizing the celebrity performers for the Democratic National Convention, which included Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, Angela Bassett, Ted Danson, Eva Longoria, Susan Sarandon, Sarah Sanders and more! Bold caught up with Adrienne for a Q&A about owning her own business and how politics has shaped her life.
BOLD: You come from a family with a background in public service, how did this inspire you to get involved in politics?
ADRIENNE ELROD: My grandfather was a State Senator for nearly 30 years — from a young age, politics was in my blood. I’m from Arkanas, so when Bill Clinton was elected President of the United States in 1992, I knew I wanted to move to Washington D.C. to work for his administration. I was only 16, so I had to wait a few years. I interned at the White House in 1996 and got a job in the White House after graduating college in 1998. The rest, as they say, is history!
BOLD: You’ve held a variety of positions working for both Bill and Hillary Clinton, what have you learned about the importance of using celebrity to connect with voters?
ADRIENNE ELROD: Celebrities and influencers have power to not only disseminate and amplify a candidate or elected official’s message to a broader audience, but they also have the power to validate an elected official to their fan base. Communicating to their audience on their own terms and in their own way, they have the ability to raise the “cool factor” of bureaucrats and communicate their policies and values in a less intimidating way.
BOLD: What role in your political career did you enjoy the most and why?
ADRIENNE ELROD: Thats’ a tough question — I’ve been lucky to work in multiple roles and positions that I’ve truly loved. It might be easier to focus on a moment that I’ve been so proud to be a part of. Watching Hillary Clinton walk across the stage as the first female nominee of a major political party for president was a pretty great moment. Knowing how hard we had all worked to get to that moment and then watching it play out in person was quite special.
BOLD: You are the president of Elrod Strategies, can you tell us about your company?
ADRIENNE ELROD: I formed my firm, Elrod Strategies, after the 2016 presidential election in part because I had no idea what I wanted to do. But I knew I wanted to work for projects and causes I believed in, and I wanted to be engaged in helping the people who are under attack and at risk by the Trump administration policies. So I formed a firm, specializing in influencer engagement for corporate and non-profit clients, progressive organizations and elected officials seeking to maximize their voice. Elrod Strategies delivers impactful strategic campaigns spanning government, business, politics and NGOs, and helps clients leverage their brand identity and mission through earned media and partnerships, and by harnessing the power and reach of high-wattage voices whose values and ideologies align with those of the client. We also work with individual celebrities and activists who are passionate and committed to engaging on a range of progressive policy issues.
BOLD: What are your goals for Elrod Strategies?
ADRIENNE ELROD: To continue to grow and work on projects that advance progressive values and causes.
BOLD: How has your experience in politics helped you transition to the world of media?
ADRIENNE ELROD: I’ve got a lot of thoughts and opinions about the state of affairs today, backed up by over 20 years working on campaigns and in government. It was a natural transition.
BOLD: How important do you think social media is when crafting a campaign message to voters?
ADRIENNE ELROD: Very important. Social media is a blessing and a curse, but it is also an invaluable and integral component to any campaign and message strategy. It’s also changing the landscape of how candidates and campaigns can advance their message, enabling those who are at a fundraising disadvantage to tell their story and get their message across without having to pay for expensive television spots.
BOLD: You have joined panels on Fox News as a Democratic strategist having conversations across the aisle. How can people discuss issues and not be so divided? Why do you think we often lack civil discourse when discussing issues that affect all of us?
ADRIENNE ELROD: The answer is simple: I still believe at my core there is more that unites us than divides us. The majority of Americans want government to work; they just disagree on the best path forward. And I believe the views of the Democratic Party should be represented on Fox, just as much as I believe the views of Republicans should be represented on other networks. Living in silos where we all think alike is never going to move the ball forward.
BOLD: There is a lot of noise in the 24-hour news cycle. How can communication firms focus on strategy when faced with so much noise?
ADRIENNE ELROD: It’s tough, and Trump is a master at manipulating the news cycle to his favor. There’s a lot of competing interests. I tell my clients to keep your message simple, tight and relevant. And remain disciplined in your delivery.
BOLD: What advice would you give young women aspiring to become entrepreneurs in business?
ADRIENNE ELROD: If you want to start your own business, just do it! Working for yourself is rewarding.