Abigail Smith '17: Purple Strategies

I am a sophomore at Saint Anselm College from Andover, MA. I am an active participant in Campus Ministry, am a Kevin Harrington Student Ambassador, employee at the Giesel Library and am currently studying Politics.

During my freshman year, I set a goal to attend one NHIOP event every two weeks. With such a wonderful resource at the bottom of the hill, there was no reason to not take advantage of its offerings … until the temperature dropped below freezing. Despite the cold, I did my best to follow through and became a familiar face at NHIOP. Meeting up with friends, we would listen to a wide variety of authors, politicians, reporters, activists and lobbyists. As the year progressed, I was surprised to find myself connecting with the reporters and media professionals that spoke. Most of them were laid-back, wore jeans, and made a point of having a discussion about their thoughts on the general political climate rather than giving a speech. They would state that their biases form their opinions and suggest ideas for improvements, but the tone of the talks was authentic and not dogmatic. I appreciated their insight, was surprised by how down to earth they seemed and soon realized that I wanted to work with people similar to them.

In late January the partners at Purple Strategies came to the Institute to present their “Purple Poll”. They conducted a national poll assessing how major brands (Amazon, Ford, Walmart, etc.) were associated with different politicians and parties. They also predicted who would win the next presidential election, despite the fact that the election is three years down the road. In the midst of jokes, sarcasm and evident camaraderie, these men discussed the climate of the country, shared their opinions and insight, disagreed with each other while emphasizing bi-partisanship as key for our nation’s future health. Purple Strategies was founded by Steve McMahon and Alex Castellanies, a Democrat and a Republican. Despite working on opposing campaigns for years, the two became good friends. They saw that their skills and opinions could compliment each other and founded Purple Strategies, the joining of Red and Blue, Republican and Democrat; to offer brand management and communications services with insights from both sides of the aisle. By no means did these men always agree with their colleagues’ opinions, but they respected one another and had made a commitment to continue searching for best possible solutions.

Currently I am assisting with client research and other business development projects at Purple’s Boston office. Since this New England office is less than a year old, I am able to work directly with the associates and managing partners in the firm, which is a valuable learning experience. Our work focuses on schools and healthcare providers around New England. I am beginning to weed through news stories that are relevant to our clients to keep them updated with current events. As a Politics major at Saint A’s, I absolutely love that part of my job this summer is keeping others informed about some of the major issues facing our nation such as healthcare, tuition costs and sexual assaults on college campuses. Purple Strategies has been a dynamic place to work. Because of the firm’s design, the atmosphere challenges new ideas, encourages bipartisanship and thinking outside the box. I am very thankful for this opportunity and am excitedly anticipating what is to come.