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September 9, 1962|
Camden, New Jersey
|Occupation||Crisis management, public relations|
|Title||Founder and CEO|
Eric B. Dezenhall (born September 9, 1962 in Camden, New Jersey; pronounced DEHZ-in-hall) is an American crisis management consultant, author, and founder of Washington D.C.-based public relations firm Dezenhall Resources. His aggressive tactics on behalf of his clients have made him both a target of criticism and a quoted pundit on crisis communications.
Born in Camden, Dezenhall grew up in nearby Cherry Hill and Pennsauken Township. He graduated from Cherry Hill High School West and studied news media and political science at Dartmouth College. Dezenhall worked briefly in President Ronald Reagan's White House communications office. After a four-year stint at Porter Novelli, Dezenhall and boss Nick Nichols left to form Nichols-Dezenhall Communications Management Company in 1987. The company's name was shortened to Dezenhall Resources Ltd. in 2004 after Nichols retired in 2003. Dezenhall and fellow principal John Weber oversee offices in Washington DC, Sacramento, Los Angeles, London and Brussels.
Dezenhall is founder and CEO of public relations firm Dezenhall Resources, which represents high-profile clients facing "crisis, conflict, and controversy." Dezenhall's published writing on public relations focuses on how a celebrity or corporation can successfully defend their reputation in the face of "a lawsuit, a sex scandal, a defective product, or allegations of insider trading," among other crises.
Although Dezenhall does not comment on clients and contracts, Business Week reported that Dezenhall had been hired by ExxonMobil/Public Interest Watch, lawyers representing former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, O'Melveny & Myers, Mark Geragos (attorney for Michael Jackson), and Eli Lilly and Company; TIME identified Procter & Gamble and General Electric; and The Hill cited Community Financial Services Association of America as clients of Dezenhall.
He was contracted by the Association of American Publishers to run an up to half million dollar campaign against the open access movement. In a series of emails that were leaked to the journal Nature, Dezenhall concedes that "it's hard to fight an adversary that manages to be both elusive and in possession of a better message: Free information," and suggests joining forces with think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute in an attempt to persuade key players of the potential risks of unfiltered access. "Paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles," he added. AAP CEO Patricia Schroeder praised Dezenhall and told The Washington Post that the association hired Dezenhall's firm when members realized they needed help. "We thought we were angels for a long time and we didn't need PR firms."
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Dezenhall writes both non-fiction and novels. His non-fiction works include Nail 'em: Confronting High-Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Business and he co-authored Damage Control: Why Everything You Know About Crisis Management is Wrong.
Dezenhall's novels include Turnpike Flameout, Shakedown Beach, Money Wanders, Jackie Disaster, and Spinning Dixie.
Kevin McCauley from O'Dwyer's PR Report called Dezenhall "the pit bull of public relations", and journalist Bill Moyers, discussing Dezenhall's firm's involvement with the chemical industry stated, "I consider [Dezenhall Resources] the Mafia of the industry." Dezenhall has been criticized for being a "spin doctor" who lowers the quality of public debate for the sake of protecting business interests. His effort on behalf of Exxon to pressure the Internal Revenue Service to revoke Greenpeace's tax exempt status was condemned by environmental advocates. His efforts on behalf of traditional publishers to combat open access to scientific research have been an ongoing source of controversy in the academic community.
- Nail 'em: Confronting High-Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Business. Prometheus. 2003. ISBN 978-1-59102-047-9.
- Coauthored with John Weber: Damage Control: Why Everything You Know About Crisis Management is Wrong. Portfolio Hardcover. 2007. ISBN 1-59184-154-2.
- The Devil Himself. Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martins. 2011. ISBN 978-0-312-66882-2.
- Spinning Dixie. Thomas Dunne Books. 2006. ISBN 0-312-34063-X.
- Turnpike Flameout. St. Martin's Minotaur. 2005. ISBN 978-0-312-34061-2.
- Shakedown Beach. St. Martin's Minotaur. 2005. ISBN 978-0-312-30773-8.
- Jackie Disaster. St. Martin's Minotaur. 2004. ISBN 978-0-312-30771-4.
- Money Wanders. St. Martin's Griffin. 2003. ISBN 978-0-312-31134-6.
- Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2002
- Salmans, Sandra. "In Person; The Suburban Mobster as Genre", The New York Times, June 8, 2003. Accessed January 1, 2018. "Mr. Dezenhall (pronounced DEHZ-in-hall), 40, was born in Camden and grew up in Pennsauken and Cherry Hill, in a family that was solidly middle class; his father is a stockbroker and his mother, who died 16 years ago, was president of the PTA."
- Friedman, Sally. "Acclaimed author returning to Cherry Hill to discuss Devil Himself", Jewish Community Voice, July 13, 2011. Accessed January 1, 2018. "The name of this self-described “nice Jewish boy from Cherry Hill,” a graduate of Cherry Hill West and Dartmouth, may have a familiar ring because it’s Dezenhall who makes frequent appearances on TV when big names are involved in big troubles."
- "About Eric". Eric Dezenhall. 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-01-24. Retrieved 2007-01-30.
- Javers, Eamon (2006-04-17). "The pit bull of public relations". BusinessWeek online. McGraw-Hill. Retrieved 2007-01-30.
- Salmans, Sandra (2003-06-08). "IN PERSON; The Suburban Mobster as Genre". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- "About - Dezenhall Resources". Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- Damage Control - Eric Dezenhall - Penguin Group (USA)
- Sachs, Andrea (2007-04-19). "The new world of crisis management". TIME. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
- Schor, Elana (2006-09-06). "Consumer groups team with Pentagon on interest rate caps". The Hill. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
- Giles, Jim (2007-01-25). "PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access. Journal publishers lock horns with free-information movement". news @ nature.com. Nature Publishing Group. Archived from the original on 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
- David Biello (26 January 2007). "Open Access to Science Under Attack". Scientific American. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/25/AR2007012501705_pf.html. Washington Post. January 25, 2007
- "Eric Dezenhall". Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "Author Takes New Approach to 'Damage Control'". NPR.org. 10 May 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "Fiction by Eric Dezenhall". Eric Dezenhall. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
- The perils of PR pitbulling - Information World Review Archived 2012-08-04 at Archive.is
- Spinwatch - "The Pit Bull Of Public Relations" Archived 2007-12-17 at the Wayback Machine.
- David Biello. "Open Access to Science Under Attack". Scientific American. Retrieved 10 January 2016.