April Fool’s PR Pranks No Laughing Matter for Major Media

by Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager,  Business Wire/Chicago

Raschanda Hall

It comes the same time every year, and despite our best efforts to keep our guards up, many of us will be taken aback by a prank or a piece of false information convincingly told to us on April Fool’s day.

What if it’s your job to separate fact from fiction and disseminate truth over confusion?  This is the role that news and information sources like the Associated Press play.  When it comes to news, reputation matters and that must mean serving as a trusted source for news 365 days a year.

Understandably there are many who don’t take kindly to a jovial day of pranks.  “We don’t consider April Fool’s jokes to be very funny,” says Tom Kent, standards editor for the Associated Press.  Kent says while others may consider it lighthearted fun, “We have a responsibility to get the facts right.”  According to Kent, the AP takes that responsibility very seriously all year round.  “We don’t think our vigilance and standards should be suspended on April 1st.”

Legacy media are not the only ones on the lookout for fake news leads.  Online websites and blogs, often stereotyped as more easily fooled, are on the lookout as well.

We all know there are many examples of April Fools jokes that have backfired, creating marketing nightmares instead of fun news coverage.  Still, there is the temptation for companies to be clever. But is it worth the risk of damaging relationships with the media?  Asked if a prank pitch could change his view of a PR person Kent says, Definitely.  We would not view someone who tried to hoax us on April 1st as credible on April 2nd.”

For us that warning is clear. At Business Wire we have our own one-liner of a policy and it is  to leave “releases not marked as April Fools’ item[s] off our wire on April 1st. Sorry jokesters

Still, don’t want to skip out on April Fools.  Here are some tips to be funny without damaging your company culture using in-office humor.

2 Responses to April Fool’s PR Pranks No Laughing Matter for Major Media

  1. [...] Business Wire published Kent’s statements on its blog last week in a post about the precautions it takes on April 1. Becktold explained those precautions to PR Daily. [...]

  2. [...] April Fools’ time, we’re sometimes asked how we feel about people planting “prank stories” in the media. We don’t find such [...]

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