36 Years Strong: Dezenhall’s Continuous Innovation and Growth
As our firm closes out its 36th year in business, I find myself reflecting even more than normal on not only the successes and challenges of the last 12 months, but on the entirety of Dezenhall Resources’ existence. The media, crisis and political landscape has evolved so drastically over the past four decades that it’s hard to summarize how today is different than 1987, when I hung our shingle with the belief that crisis management requires a different mindset and much more flexible strategic approach than what I saw in the big box PR firms.
Today, we have very different challenges and opportunities. The key challenge is the democratization of information. Yes, we all hold the totality of human knowledge in our pockets every day; there has never been more access to information. That comes with spreading disinformation and confusion, as the traditional gatekeepers of news – the mainstream media – is now in competition with any person with an internet connection and an opinion.
On the flip side, we are able to reach our audiences with unprecedented precision. There is no one size fits all message or approach in the modern world; there are tribes and cliques and communities of people organized around hobbies, ideas, beliefs and hundreds of other identities. This offers ample opportunities for marketers, communicators and brand managers to understand their audiences and carry on meaningful dialogue with them, but it also presents a need for caution. We are telling our clients, “Now, more than ever, you need to speak with credibility and authority. You cannot be everything to everyone.”
I’m proud of Dezenhall’s rapid but calculated growth into new advocacy frontiers, spearheaded by our next generation of leadership. My partners, Steven Schlein, Maya Shackley, Anne Marie Malecha and Josh Culling have spent the last few years assessing the marketplace and our capabilities to impact it.
We have built an in-house digital advocacy apparatus, continue to build a cutting-edge tech stack, have embraced strategic partnerships with data-forward technology to turbocharge our advocacy efforts and are beginning to incorporate artificial intelligence to increase our productivity and efficiency for our clients. This, married with the firm’s longstanding thoughtful and often contrarian approach and our team’s strategic acumen, gives me every reason to believe Dezenhall is positioned for another 40 years of impact as a result.
Effective January 1, 2024, Anne Marie Malecha will be Chief Executive Officer and Josh Culling will be President of Dezenhall Resources. Maya Shackley will continue as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. Steven Schlein and I will step back from day-to-day client management but will still be involved in ad hoc strategic counseling and remain involved behind the scenes with the business of the firm. In January of 2028, Anne Marie and Josh will become full equity owners of the firm.
Anne Marie and Josh have spearheaded the last five years of growth that I describe above. They have helped build a staff that is the most impressive I have had the pleasure to work with. Our client and strategic partner relationships are stronger than ever, our mix of capabilities continues to evolve and grow at a breakneck pace, and it’s clear that the future is blindingly bright under the leadership of these two. I am very proud of their talent, doggedness, professionalism and commitment to growth.
Anne Marie and Josh know, as I do, that the key to a successful consulting business is happy clients. Every idea they have is evaluated through the lens of client success. We may not always tell our clients what they want to hear, but they can always be confident that our interests are aligned. Their success is our success.
s Steven and I step away from day-to-day operations, we will be watching Dezenhall’s next few years with a mix of pride and excitement. I’m grateful to all of you who gave me the opportunity to do what I love for so long. Now it’s time to turn over the keys to the next generation. I do so with profound gratitude.