Winter 2019 McKendree Magazine

PR Exec is Living the Dream

Sean Lashley ’02by Grant Riggs ’19

In 2017, Sean Lashley ’02, senior vice president and partner at FleishmanHillard, a St. Louis-based public relations and marketing agency, was named to PRWeek’s “40 Under 40.” The annual list acknowledges upcoming leaders in public relations throughout the U.S.

“It was an honor that my company and colleagues thought enough of me to take the time to put my name in the hat for consideration,” Sean said. “It was an even bigger honor to be selected and stand next to 39 of my peers who do such impressive work. It’s humbling, to say the least.”

Sean, who began as an intern at FleishmanHillard nearly 16 years ago, has developed into the founder and lead of the agency’s Global Entertainment Practice. “I handle the negotiation of all celebrity spokesperson and influencer contracts for our clients, execute branded entertainment in film and television, pitch and staff media days with talent, and produce red carpet events,” he said. “I touch nearly every entertainment project in our network of more than 80 offices in 30 countries.”

He has also placed his clients and their products into scripted and non-scripted TV shows. “In the final year of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ I negotiated for Oprah’s entire audience, and the show itself, to go to Australia for a two-week adventure on behalf of Tourism Australia,” he said. “I’ve placed Sleep Number beds on ‘Modern Family’ multiple times throughout the show’s run. Recently, I executed a partnership between Tropicana and ‘Good Morning America.’”

Sean initially aspired to be an actor, “but I quickly learned that the idea of a steady paycheck was more important to me than fame,” he said. “And, heck, very few of us become George Clooney, right?”

At McKendree, he earned a degree in speech communication with an emphasis in public relations and formed relationships with many who still influence him today. “Dr. Bill Haskins was my advisor and both he and the late Dr. Betsy Gordon were wonderful mentors to me,” he said. “So many of the professors at McKendree were such wonderful mentors—Dr. Stacey-Doyle, Heather Schoenberg, Dr. Eggleston and even President Dennis. Without their mentorship, I would most certainly not be where I am today. If I had it to do all over again, I’d go back to McKendree without a doubt.”

During and after college, Sean interned with a New York City-based independent record label, CliffEdge Marketing and North Star Frozen Treats prior to FleishmanHillard. “I believe internships are one of THE most important pieces of your college education,” he said. “Not only do you get hands-on learning that is impossible to teach in the classroom, you learn what you DON’T want to do as much as what you DO want to do.”

He has set numerous goals for himself, personally and professionally. “I want to write a book. I want to work with Dolly Parton. I want to earn enough money that I can give back to causes I care about, like Five Acres Animal Shelter, a no-kill shelter in St. Charles, Mo. I’ve actually set the goal to raise $40,000 for the shelter before I turn 40 in September 2019.

“The list is endless. I have new goals every day and I keep a journal of what they are and how I will achieve them. If you have a plan, anything is possible.”

What advice would he give a younger Sean Lashley? “Be appreciative for the many, many gifts that you are about to receive in life and find a way to leave the world a better place. Love your job but don’t let your job be your only love. Most of all, enjoy your life, because you’re about to go on one heck of an adventure that will feel more like a series of dreams than reality but it’s reality, buddy. It’s your life. And it’s pretty damn great.”


Sean Lashley ’02, leader of the FleishmanHillard agency’s Global Entertainment Practice, probably has a cooler job than you do.