When we think of noteworthy companies, you’ll often find that an organization’s culture and guiding principles for how it interacts with customers and community are key components to success. The Adriel Hampton Group - Digital Strategy and Advertising is proof that an unique and modern approach with a leader at the helm bringing a wealth of knowledge to the table, understanding both – “the challenges and opportunities that digital transformation offers” for clients.
Adriel Hampton and Stacie Mannos
showing off their first COVID-19
vaccination & vaccination card,
2021. (Photo courtesy of Adriel Hampton)
To gain deeper insight into The Adriel Hampton Group - Digital Strategy and Advertising’s successes, their culture, and their CEO, I connected with The Adriel Hampton Group - Digital Strategy and Advertising’s CEO, Adriel Hampton.
Please introduce yourself:
I’m a political strategist and activist based in California.
Q. This month you’re celebrating The Adriel Hampton Group - Digital Strategy and Advertising 6th Year Anniversary. What thoughts and emotions come to mind when you think about that?
We made it! It’s been six years of ups and downs, but if I think about the full span, I’m really happy and proud of where I am today. I started the business to get out of debt, and I hit that goal during the sixth year.
Q. Where did you draw your inspiration or concept in order to start and build this incredible business?
I had worked at the ground level of two mid-sized organizations, The San Francisco Examiner, and NationBuilder, an advocacy and political technology provider. At NationBuilder, I worked a lot on growth and partnership development and after getting laid off in a downsizing, I decided to focus on helping other organizations with the kind of growth we saw. It also helped that I had these relationships and was then able to expand the kinds of services I could offer.
Q. What were your visions back when you started and how have you met them or even surpassed those visions?
Some of the things I started out wanting to do, like work in a shop with lots of experienced strategists, haven’t happened. But what I’ve been really excited about is how much of my expertise I’ve been able to share and give away, and how I’ve been able to work in projects with clear impact that match my values. There’s no easier way to do values-aligned work than to lead your own business.
Q. Do you work locally or nationally?
Much of my focus is on federal politics, and working with larger advocacy groups. Because California is such a huge state, there is a lot of work in-state, too. As I was coming up, I worked on local political races, and in 2017-2018, I helped run a statewide campaign here in California.
Q. To what do you attribute your success?
Resilience, getting up when you’re knocked down, is so important to any entrepreneurial endeavor. Specifically to my business, I’ve focused on helping create a vision for clients and then executing on that vision. Execution-plus-vision is a winning combination.
Q. What is unique about your business?
We really focus on taking campaign strategies and best practices into the digital world, and providing what’s been called “general” consulting with a digital-first approach. That’s rare in my world.
Q. You’ve been very vocal and critical of Facebook – what more do you want to accomplish? What have been your biggest frustrations?
I want to see Facebook and other privacy-invasive and addictive social media regulated by federal and state governments. I don’t like how Facebook profits from extremism and harmful content. Even the job of moderating content is pushed to low-paid contractors.
Q. What is your favorite part about your job? What excites you most?
I really like the inception phase of a project. Starting with a goal, an idea, a conversation, and building out a product, program, or campaign that accomplishes good in the world.
Q. What do you look for in a team member?
In this business, it’s so important to work with folks who don’t need to be managed and can move a project forward without a lot of direct attention. This is critical because campaigns, especially progressive campaigns, are often underfunded so you’re always trying to do more with less.
Q. Does your company help the community where it is located?
One motto I started out with is, “Free or very expensive.” We give back both by providing insight and training, but also by volunteering on various campaigns and initiatives, particularly when it comes to California’s most vulnerable, including tenants facing eviction and homelessness.
Q. When you think of companies or campaigns that are getting it right in terms of understanding new technology for community organizing, and communities, what are your thoughts? Why?
What I’m seeing right now is a transition period following the Trump administration and his use of social media to push the news cycle. While Trump is off of social media for the time being, his influence is lasting. People and organizations feel really burnt by Facebook, and we’re also seeing both Apple and Google move to sharply reduce third-party tracking on their platforms, one of the keys to online advertising. Grassroots organizations, like The People’s City Council - Los Angeles.
Q. What is the best piece of leadership advice you have received?
In a growth environment, you’re only going to be able to get to 10% of what you want to do now, so one of the most important skills to learn is prioritizing so you’re always working on that top 10%. You have to be willing to ruthlessly prioritize.
Q. You’ve announced your candidacy for Governor of California in order to run fake ads on FB, and there have been plenty of questions about this topic, but what I want to know is – how did you come up with this idea and what was your family and friends reaction?
Basically, Facebook was saying that only politicians and parties could run ads without fact-checking, and we needed a way to poke Mark Zuckerberg in the eye on that. After Facebook blocked my PAC from embarrassing them with blatantly false ads, I did some research, called a friend for advice, then filled out a one page form and ran it down to the local post office. Suddenly, I was a candidate for Governor getting interviewed on CNN about my beef with Facebook. I may have done this while my wife was out of town! Since I ran for the House of Representatives in 2009, it wasn’t really out of character for me.
Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Success if cumulative. Even when you’re not sure of the next step, if you keep grinding at a productive effort, keep getting up when you get knocked down or things feel grim, you can become more successful than you may have imagined.
Q. What’s next for you and for ‘The Adriel Hampton Group - Digital Strategy and Advertising’? Based on the outcome of this election, do you intend to run for any other public office roles?
We’re working on a big project with RootsAction.org called “Progressive Hub,” and I have some big ideas brewing around boosting influencers on the left. We absolutely have to combat the right in the media space or things will get even worse than what we experienced under Trump.
The primary election is still a year away, but I am also focused on the 2026 cycle- whether I run, or it’s others, we desperately need more socialists in office in California to push back against corporate greed and stop global warming. As the fifth largest economy in the world, California has a unique role to play.
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