40 Under 40 2017: Chris Cashman

Senior director of PR, Columbia Business School, 38

Beyond the stone facade of one of the country’s oldest academic institutions, Chris Cashman is upending the way PR can align with and help achieve the Columbia Business School’s broader strategic and business goals.

By reinventing PR operations at the institution, shifting from a reactive to an aggressively proactive posture and raising the visibility of the school and its community through breaking news and tireless promotion of its thought-leadership platform, Cashman has garnered measurable and impactful results.

His small, aggressive team of direct reports and agencies has marshaled its resources to impressive accomplishments. As the point person for a New Brand for a New Era initiative that focused on creating new and distinct global brand positioning, Cashman’s team surveyed more than 1,000 stakeholders then developed a PR campaign to energize and unite the school’s 44,000-plus global community.

Cashman reinvented Columbia’s media relations strategy, shifting its operation into a proactive, rapid-response newsroom and increasing positive media coverage by 225% since his start. This year, his team is on track to shatter all previous earned media records with more than 10,000 articles written about Columbia. The school now ranks as one of the top three most-covered business schools in the U.S. each month.

By instilling cutting-edge metrics into the school’s PR operation, Cashman helped demonstrate to senior leaders the impact PR can have on achieving the school’s broader strategic and business objectives. He expanded the scope and influence of his team by infusing PR throughout the organization, and he was responsible for developing and launching two new communication vehicles to amplify the ideas, insights, and research from the school’s thought leaders.

He also created a comprehensive media-training program that helped increase the skill and comfort level of more than four dozen faculty and administrators. At the same time, Cashman forged media partnerships to further amplify the ideas and innovations coming from Columbia.

  • He spearheaded development and execution of the school’s 22-month, global centennial Milestone Campaign, which resulted in more than $100 million raised in donations.
  • Cashman spent the first 11 years of his career in Washington, DC, serving as a communications strategist and political adviser to an array of entities and as press secretary to two United States Congressmen.
  • While on Capitol Hill, he wrote more than 200 press releases, statements, speeches, and op-eds to frame his bosses’ votes and stances on key issues.

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