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August 10, 2015

Poor journalists who fall for the DHR International PR machine

DHR have a well-oiled PR machine and so time-poor, inexperienced journalists fall for DHR's self-publicity hook, line & sinker.

We've written before about Hunt Scanlon and their jaw-dropping history of malfeasance. Hunt Scanlon claim to operate a team of "trusted, experienced reporters and editors" on all things "human capital" but actually also run a PR company (AERIS | Media Group) and have a gobsmacking, shameful track record of receiving embezzled funds from the management of search firms.

Hunt Scanlon don't like transparency: they recently reworked their web site and prevented reader comments without moderators' approval. It appears they did this to stop people shining a light or asking questions on their relationship with DHR or Hunt Scanlon's role in the demise of the Whitney Group and CTPartners. The Whitney saga led to the 2009 bankruptcy of both Christopher Hunt and Scott Scanlon. While bankruptcy allows you to erase some of your debts, it does not allow you to expunge your nefarious actions. Hunt Scanlon rose from the ashes as if nothing ever happened. The front page of their web site refers to the fact they have been "defining and informing the senior talent management sector for over 25 years" indicating the direct lineage of the new Hunt Scanlon Media to the failed venture that made off with the misappropriated Whitney loot.

We've previously emailed questions to Hunt Scanlon about their relationship with DHR International but they have not responded. We can only suspect that this is because what others have told us about their relationship with DHR is true.

Claire Bushey
Another recent example of poor journalism comes from Crain's Chicago Business. Written by a "Reporter", Claire Bushey, the story is based on DHR/Geoff Hoffmann's PR. The article is filled with inaccuracies, suggesting that Bushey did not try and verify the facts.

Some examples of Bushey's inaccuracies:
  1. Bushey quotes Scott Scanlon as an expert. A quick web or press search would have revealed Scanlon's track record.  Scanlon makes the laughable claim that “DHR's moves this summer will definitely change the playing field among the top search firms. There's now a new, significant rival.” What incredible hyperbole!
  2. Bushey quotes Executive Search Review as a source for the size of DHR's revenue. But, as covered on our web site, DHR's numbers have been inflated to make it look bigger than it is. Even worse, Bushey refers to Executive Search Review as if it is a different source of information but, as we all know, it is still Scott Scanlon working on behalf of DHR.
  3. She claims "the largest chunk of CTPartners' $172.5 million in revenue will go to DHR" and quotes Geoff Hoffmann: “The biggest attraction for us was the European footprint, which we were able to secure largely intact.” This isn't true, as we have shown, most of the CTPartners' European team have not joined DHR.
  4. Bushey states "But by the time [DHR International] finalized a deal in July for 14 offices and 210 of CTPartners' employees, much of the struggling firm's top talent already had departed." Firstly, DHR have not acquired 14 offices nor 210 employees. Secondly, actually 78% of CTPartners' consultants were still there at July 1, 2015. The fact is that 80% of that 78% actively elected not to join DHR.
We have written multiple times between August and October 2015 to Claire Bushey and her editors at Crain's Chicago Business (Michael Arndt, Steve Reiss and Ann Dwyer) suggesting they might want to check their facts and sources' bona fides. Bushey responded, suggesting a phone call but Claire Bushey and her editors have failed to answered our direct, simple questions, which we have put to them multiple times; and so we can only assume answers.
  1. Are you able to let us know whether any part of Crain's received any money from DHR or its associates or agencies?
  2. Are you able to confirm whether you verified Hoffmann's or Scanlon's claims?
So, it may be that this the Crain's article is paid for by DHR. Crain's make it clear that this is their business model: "providing marketers with unique custom content and creative solutions, Crain's Custom Media works to challenge advertisers to think outside of traditional marketing platforms - helping them create and craft marketing content that sets them apart from the crowd. Tapping the powerful distribution of Crain's Chicago Business' 218,066 authoritative and influential weekly readers, and nearly 1,200,000 unique monthly visitors, marketers custom campaigns will not go unnoticed." Well, we've noticed it.

Journalists ought to follow the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, "to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough." This includes a need to, among other things:

  • "Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived."
  • "Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story."
  • "Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story."
  • "Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate."
  • "Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not."
  • "Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage."
  • "Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content."
  • "Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness." 
  • "Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly."

But not all journalists do a poor job. Tip of the hat Dawna Jones of the Huffington Post and her focus on the DHR/CTPartners/Caldwell Partners saga. In an opinion piece, entitled "The Value of Transparency in Dealing With a Merger & Acquisition", Ms Jones even referred to this, our humble web site.
"People either impacted by the CTPartners takeover, or learning from it, had access to a site dedicated to assembling publicly available information on DHR. Here, transparency played a part in shining the spotlight on what was going on behind the scenes, including issues that were not being discussed in the mainstream media."
By the way, we don't claim to be journalists, reporters or even independent. But we do allow people to make comments and we do respond to emails. If we are wrong, we will correct the record. We'd like to see Hunt Scanlon and Crain's to offer the same transparency.


  1. Thanks Dawna - it was about time all this got out into the mainstream media!

  2. Your commentary from yesterday was spot on. In one post from Hunt Scanlon, we suggested that they share your blogspot with some of the Boards that have chosen DHR of late, such as Myers Industries. Not surprisingly, the moderator never allowed that comment to be posted. Some of the comments we made about individuals from CTP that have joined other firms, which Hunt Scanlon has been giving free press to, don't deserve the time of day given the sleezy track record that they operated with.

  3. I keep on posting questions on Hunt Scanlon and they don't let them through their moderation filter. I guess DHR have paid them too much to allow fair questions from readers. Scandalous.