Stop the April Fools’ Foolishness

Technology companies love April Fools’ Day (too much). The marketing, public relations and other departments seem to invest good time, money and (some) creativity to their efforts to fool customers and the public into thinking some outrageous thing is real. Or to get the laughs.

Rarely are the April Fools’ Day jokes funny, even with all the effort. So why do it all? Well, maybe for the lulz but also it seems to get media coverage and brand awareness.

Think about that: it is for media coverage and brand awareness.

We see companies ranging from startups to established Fortune 100 companies all attempting to pull off an April Fools’ joke. I even saw a tech reporter’s Facebook update noting that he was pitched multiple April Fool’s Day jokes on embargo. On embargo.

Why are PR people pitching these stories? Why are those same PR people not pushing back and saying no? Don’t PR people have much more important stories to pitch for their companies/clients than such unoriginal and not creative crap? Really, at the end of the day, are we not better than this?

But let us ask a possibly even more important question: in the era of fake news, is it smart to be pitching fake news to business and technology reporters?

We are in the middle of a time where technology journalism keeps seeming to take a hit. It's a time when VCs are attacking journalists and stories on Twitter and making claims of hidden agendas or hit pieces, merely because good journalists are actually investigating and exposing bad companies and bad players.

On the flip side, as it was put to me recently, all technology news now seems fake. Tech media are writing shallow technology stories and not digging into deeper issues.Or, maybe worse, the push to publish and be first is causing them to outright miss the real stories and the bigger picture.

On that note, the technology and business press would better serve the readers by skipping the April Fools’ stunts this year, and not give corporations the press they desire. Yes, I understand that the April Fools’ stories get clicks and readers, the wonderful click bait … but in this new era of fake news, shouldn't we all strive to be better?

As the PR person, just say "no" when the marketing people come in with their “great” idea for stunts and jokes. Because, if we are being honest, the ideas are not that creative or clever and we do more harm than good pitching them to reporters.

And no, this is not my April Fools' Stunt - this is too serious a time to joke.

Photo copyright: grgroup / 123RF Stock Photo

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4 comments

  1. I just sent you a gift.

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    1. Amazing, and so indicative of why we can't have nice things out there. Did that pitch make you want to write about their stunt OR their real products??

      And unless they're paying influencers, I can't imagine anyone writing it up.

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  2. With all due respects, I totally disagree. A little levity is a good thing. Everyone knows it's April Fool's Day, and they know what that means. Poking fun at oneself---even if the self is a business---shows good sportsmanship.

    What's next, no Halloween? No Mardi Gras?

    It's okay to have fun in PR and marketing. I dare say the majority of consumers get that it's a joke. Today's spoof by Southwest was a real gem.

    https://www.facebook.com/SouthwestAir/videos/10155330116883949/


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    1. Am I allowed to agree and disagree at the same time? I think it's become a huge issue in the tech industry where the companies are so caught up with it, that they push out "jokes" year after year that just aren't good.

      And on Halloween and Mardi Gras, there isn't a wholesale approach to fool and lie to people. Those are all fun, with some tricks but mostly on the up and up.

      But I stick by my point about fake news, and PR people going on embargo for their stunts. If it's any good, it'll get pickup. And with journalists being such pills about pitches, for them to go all-in on something like this just for the clicks and ignore stories they should be digging in or listening to, nope, not for me.

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