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3 Public Relations Lessons from April Fool’s Day

3 Public Relations Lessons from April Fool's Day

By virtue of sheer numbers, April Fool’s Day must be growing its marketing spend each year.

It’s got a long way to go to catch up with the monetization of Christmas, but the beb was alive last Sunday with the marketing of fools.

Google ran about a dozen such pranks (round up), BMW introduced a driverless running coach, surely you heard about Richard Branson’s trip to the earth’s core.

Even the media got in on it when Forbes declared Mitt Romney had exited the race for the Republican nomination. I don’t think Forbes will be getting any exclusives from the Romney camp.

Of all the jokes, gimmicks and playfulness one stood out for me:  PinPal’s social media dating experiment.

PinPal was launched as a social site that searched your friends – and the friends of your friends – to help users find love.

The conspirators went to great lengths to develop a site, write a back story, issue a press release, and for authenticity’s sake, even had detractors, popular marketing bloggers, like Danny Brown and Kami Huyse write posts attacking the obvious privacy concerns.

It was a spoof and a lot of people fell for it.   There are a number of PR lessons that can be taken away from the effort:

1. Never underestimate the potential of a holiday.

Successful PR pros learn early on to find a news hook and a date of significance can be just that hook.  I try to keep an eye out and write about creative ideas often, sometimes it’s not a date, but an event, that presents the opportunity; other times it’s the power of the creativity itself.

2. People often react to new ideas viscerally.

This underscores the important of having an emotional connection to your brand, but keep in mind it can work both for you and against you (Google seems to be a whipping boy of late).

This means you can’t simply just do a launch anymore, whether you go for a big splash or a drip-drip campaign, you’ve got to have at least your first seven moves mapped out before you start – and this should include crisis communications planning.

3. Third-party validation is persuasive.

Danny’s critical post had, according to the Livefyre comment system, more than 100 reactions including Tweets and blog comments. Kami’s had more than a dozen and you can quickly skim these to see that people bought off on the prank hook, line and sinker.

I’m sure for each there were plenty of lurkers with similar thoughts that they chose not to share.  This demonstrates that just a handful of well-placed, credible social media-lites in the right niche space can offer third-party validation that ignites conversations.

* * *

What about you?  What were the April Fool’s jokes, or lessons from them, that stood out for you?

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:
Avoid the Noid: A Mascot that Became a PR Crisis Case Study

Photo credit: Pixabay (CC0 1.0)

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