Which is worse, the pyramid scheme or the PR firm?

By Felix Salmon
April 6, 2009

I just got this press release from Ashley Wallace, of Ronn Torossian’s notorious 5WPR firm:

Hello!

With the summer months approaching and unemployment inching closer and closer to the predicted 10 percent – recently reaching 8.5% and a 25-year high – more than 13 million unemployed Americans will be looking for ways to stay afloat during these tough economic times.

And with more than 5.1 million jobs lost since the beginning of 2008 and 630,000 jobs lost in March alone, and with millions vying for the same rare and elusive job openings, more and more are turning to direct selling…

[Redacted pyramid scheme] has grown rapidly recently, with over 2,000 independent sales representatives across the country. These consultants enjoy the advantages of working in direct sales while in-between jobs, such as flexible schedules, gaining valuable sales experience, and being their own boss – all the while making money and preventing gaps on their resume…

Recruitment has skyrocketed in recent months, with recruitment up nearly three times in recent months, including “leads” soaring (prospective consultants) 3 months in a row…

To arrange an interview with CEO [Redacted] about direct selling and how laid off workers can get a quick and easy start in the business, please contact me.

I suppose that if you’re in the business of exploiting the recently laid-off by getting them to send you their precious cash (and, of course, recruit their friends and family to the pyramid as well) as a result of their desperation to make ends meet, then, yes, your business might be doing quite well these days.
On the other hand, if you’re a PR firm and you’re reduced to flacking pyramid schemes, there might be less hope for you. Especially if you give the game away in your very own press release by referring to your own would-be sales people as “leads”. In a legitimate business, you might be surprised to hear, it’s the potential customers who are the leads. Not the potential sales staff.

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