Herbalife Ltd. In A PR Battle With Critics

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A day after a couple of former Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) distributors shared their stories of how they believe the company ripped them off, Herbalife has struck back. The company has sent out six identical press releases—a move that one Seeking Alpha contributor calls “a bonehead PR move.” Indeed, it seems like the multi-level marketing company may be trying too hard to beat down its critics, or maybe it feels like it’s fighting an uphill battle at this stage.

Herbalife highlights positive stories

Herbalife’s press release is titled: “Herbalife Members Say: ‘Herbalife Has Positive Impact On The Lives And Health Of Millions Of Members, Consumers And Communities.'” Once again, representatives for the company have descended on Washington to lobby on its behalf. The company said 21 members from six different states flew to Washington to speak with lawmakers and “highlight economic and entrepreneurship opportunities.”

The nutritional supplements company said those who went to Washington represent 550,000 independent members. Herbalife added that it has about 54,000 “independent Herbalife businesses that contribute to local economies and communities across the U.S.”

This is the second time the company has sent members to speak with lawmakers in Washington. As usual, they highlighted the products themselves and explained that almost three-quarters of Herbalife members use the products. However, only about 25% of members “are so passionate about Herbalife that they have chosen to sell the products.”

The company also said it offers real opportunities for entrepreneurs and helps people lead healthier lives. It also claims to have the “best consumer protections in the direct selling industry” and be an “active and engaged corporate citizen.”

The lobbying battle with Herbalife

The press release doesn’t actually include any concrete numbers other than that only 25% of its members actually sell the products. Seeking Alpha contributor Quoth the Raven said Herbalife has done some other “bizarre” PR stunts in the past. For example, the company ran a contest on its website for the “best testimonial.” In addition, Herbalife created a Twitter account he said causes the micro-blogging platform’s users to be “force fed grade A bologna.”

No doubt the press release that’s plastered everywhere today is in response to the personal stories shared in The Wall Street Journal by a couple of former Herbalife distributors. One said he lost $30,000 trying to sell the product, while another said he lost $16,000. These stories are starting to become so commonplace that the company faces investigations in multiple jurisdictions.

Shares of Herbalife declined by more than 1% in morning trading today.

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