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Everyone loves a dramatic resignation story. That seems to be the lesson of the week, as Jet Blue flight attendant Steve Slater's story of aggressively quitting his job  made him into a folk hero and one girl who quit her job with a white board became an internet sensation. 

But one of those stories didn't really happen. Jenny the “DryErase Board Girl” is actually a professional actress hired by a humor site to increase traffic. Which worked. It's amazing what a little internet knowledge can do. 

Images of a girl named Jenny handing in her resignation via white board presentation made the rounds of the internet yesterday. After being called a HOPA by her boss, Jenny sent in her resignation, via white board slideshow. It first popped up on theChive. Because it was created there.

Jenny is actually an aspiring actress named Elyse Porterfield, who responded to a casting call put out by brothers John and Leo Resig, the owners of theChive.

Yesterday, Pete Kafka interviewed Leo Resig about the images, and he was cagey when asked if they were fake:

“If you want to assume that, you can. We have a track record.”

But by this morning, they came clean with a new series of images featuring Jenny/Elise.

News sites like New York magazine, Mashable, The Atlantic's website, the New York Post, TechCrunch and The Telegraph picked up the story yesterday, which was fabricated to have maximum reach.

Aside from the trusty marketing tactic of using a hot girl, theChive picked a topic that has affected almost everyone — workplace disatisfaction. And theChive did a lot of name dropping in its pictures. Jenny's boss spent time on Scottrade (an investment site), 5.3 hours a week on TechCrunch (playing into the self-obsession of blogs got them a reblog), and 19.7 hours a week playing Farmville (Facebook's most popular game).

theChive, and its sister sites — theBerry, theBrigade and theThrottle — reportedly bring in a monthly audience of 5.6 million uniques. According to comScore, the Chive, has 1.3 million uniques. The Jenny images went viral quickly, and the post now has over 399,000 likes on Facebook.

John Resig tells TechCrunch:

“I’d [sic] did it almost to prove to myself that I had it in me, to make something go viral at 4:30 in the morning before the world wakes up. You get a pure thrill of watching your site go from 15,000 uniques to 440,000 uniques in a single hour, watching yourself sucker every site from a-z who didn’t do their backstory.”

A hoax has two lives, the initial hoax and the story of how it happened. Even though this is a hoax, people want to see a walking/talking Jenny, the people want Jenny.

And people are also likely checking in at theChive to see what else comes from that site. There's even a campaign to get Jenny in Playboy — “1,000,000 Strong for Jenny DryErase to Pose in Playboy.”

Meanwhile, Steve Slater, the Jet Blue attendant who might be charged with endangering the lives of his passenger, is now an internet hero with 125,000 fans and over 81,000 likes on Facebook.

There's now a Steven Slater Legal Defense Fund to help the former flight attendant with his legal troubles. But after he makes the talk show rounds, he could still end up in jail. theChive and Elyse Porterfield have a bit less to lose.

Images: top, Buzzfeed; bottom, theChive

Meghan Keane

Published 11 August, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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