Rolling Out

Traci Otey Blunt: guiding the corporate voice of RLJ Companies


Traci Otey Blunt, senior vice president for corporate communications and public affairs for the RLJ Companies, specializes in interaction. Working directly with entrepreneurial icon Bob Johnson, Blunt handles RLJs communications and media strategy—managing associations with major power players in industry and politics.

“The RLJ Companies is the holding company founded by Bob Johnson. When he sold BET, he started what they’ve dubbed as his ‘second act,'” explains Blunt. “He’s got a real estate arm; RLJ Lodging Trust. We’ve got a private equity firm; we have a small business entity that loans money to companies to help them grow. We have a gaming company, an entertainment company, a film distribution company, [and] he’s still affiliated with the [NBA franchise] Charlotte Bobcats.”

With such varied interests, Blunt has to understand communication between all kinds of businesses. The Tennessee State alum has worked with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, serving as Clinton’s deputy communications director. She was also press secretary for the 2002 re-election campaign for former Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams. Her history of political experience makes her an invaluable individual at RLJ Companies.

“There are a wide range of business sectors where I get to work on communications as well as public affairs,” she says. “And [I] interface with Congress, administration and regulators in various businesses across all of those sectors.”

For Blunt, loving what she does and maintaining her sense of self have been key components of her successful climb up the professional ladder.

“What has worked for me is just being true to who I am. Knowing what I know, and I [let] people know that if I don’t know something and it’s something I need to learn, they can help me along the way,” says Blunt. “[Also] just being in a positive space as much as possible and learning from your mistakes and capitalizing on opportunities.”

“There is never a dull moment working for Bob Johnson at RLJ Companies,” she says. “Because we’re in so many business sectors and he’s a ‘serial entrepreneur,’ he can wake up one day and decide ‘OK, we’re going into this other space.’ So I always have the opportunity to learn and I’m always being challenged.”

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