Erik Smith

Founding Partner & CEO

As Seven Letter’s CEO, Erik has built an industry leading crisis communications and public affairs agency starting with the founding of Blue Engine Message & Media as a sole proprietor in 2006. Since then, Erik has managed the acquisition or merger of JDA Frontline, Tessio Labs, Matt George Associates and the O’Neill and Associates public relations practice group to create a full-service, integrated agency consistently recognized by PR Week as a “Best Place to Work" and by PR News as one of the "Agency Elite Top 100".

Erik Smith is a veteran strategic communications strategist and entrepreneur with expertise in crisis communications, digital strategy and advertising.

Erik leads the firm’s business strategy, manages the client development process and collaborates on client work across the firm by advising corporations, nonprofits, and individuals on the development and implementation of communications strategy. Most often, these engagements deal with complex situations such as crisis, litigation, legislative challenge, regulatory change, leadership transition or public policy advocacy in such diverse industries as health care, energy, financial services, consumer products, entertainment, and philanthropy.


As Seven Letter’s CEO, Erik has built an industry leading crisis communications and public affairs agency starting with the founding of Blue Engine Message & Media as a sole proprietor in 2006. Since then, Erik has managed the acquisition or merger of JDA Frontline, Tessio Labs, Matt George Associates and the O’Neill and Associates public relations practice group to create a full-service, integrated agency consistently recognized by PR Week as a “Best Place to Work" and by PR News as one of the "Agency Elite Top 100".


Erik was also a co-founder of Bully Pulpit Interactive, a digital marketing firm and The Analytics Media Group, which tracks advertising analytics that has since rebranded as 605.


Before entering private practice, Erik worked for more than a decade as a lead strategist and counselor to U.S. Senators and Representatives as well as national party committees.  During his time as a Capitol Hill press strategist, spokesman and media trainer, Erik was regularly recognized by Roll Call newspaper as one of the 50 most powerful staff people in Congress. Most notably, Erik’s crisis communications expertise was deployed during his time serving as Communications Director for the House Democratic Leader shaping congressional communications strategy in the days after 9/11, the Congressional anthrax attacks and the shooting at the U.S. Capitol.


In 2008 and 2012, Erik was a senior advisor for advertising and message development to the Obama-Biden presidential campaigns where he designed, developed and placed television, radio and print advertising as part of a team that, according to The New York Times, ‘unleashed an advertising campaign of a scale and complexity unrivaled in the television era.’ Erik produced high-profile political media events including the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions and the historic Obama-Biden 30-minute network television broadcast seen by more than 35 million viewers in October 2008. Erik also served as Creative Director for the 2009 and 2013 Presidential Inauguration Committees.


Erik is a founding board member of Business Forward, a pro-business advocacy organization and has previously served on the board of the Washington Nationals Youth Academy and as a founding board member of President Obama’s nonprofit, Organizing for Action. He also served for four years as a delegate to the China-US Exchange Program, cosponsored by the Center for America Progress.


A frequent source for leading political and business reporters and guest on cable and radio news programs, Erik has been quoted as an expert in the pages of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Axios, Politico, and has appeared on CNN, FOX News Channel, NPR and others. Erik has been a featured speaker at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, The Annenberg Public Policy Center at The University of Pennsylvania, The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, the American Bar Association and the Foundation Nationale des Sciences Politiques in Paris.