April Fool’s Day: a marketer’s dream or nightmare?

As is the case with every April Fool’s Day, I hadn’t realised the significance of today’s date until I found myself questioning a host of radio news reports during my drive to the office.

Personally, I love this annual morning of hoaxes. When I was working in PR, the team had the pleasure of scanning the national newspapers each morning and it was a great opportunity for spotting the more gullible amongst us. It became something that I very much looked forward to.

That said, the day can throw a spanner in the works for marketers and PR professionals alike. If you have a big announcement to make for a client that could interest the national press, do you hang on to it for an extra day to ensure that it doesn’t get sidelined by faux news stories or – god forbid – mistaken for one? Or, is it better to issue it as planned and hope that editors are looking to balance out the high jinks with some hard-hitting business stories?

On the flip side, April Fool’s Day can be a saving grace for those looking to discreetly air some dirty laundry. There’s a higher chance that a negative news piece will be overlooked as attention is grabbed by some great editorial and advertorial stunts.

It reminds me of an episode of The West Wing called “Take Out the Trash Day”. The idea is that you group all of the bad news stories together and give them to the press on one day, safe in the knowledge that the journalists only have a set number of column inches to fill.

The same principal applies with April Fool’s Day and big national events, in my opinion. While it means that your great story might get lost, it also means that your less flattering story might not get noticed.

Love it or hate it, April Fool’s wind ups are here to stay. This year, I’ve seen more of them than ever thanks to Facebook and Twitter.

I’d be interested to hear further thoughts on the topic from other marketers and PR professionals. Just leave me a comment below.

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