- 01 Apr 2017
Saturday morning, April 1st. It had been a long week, so of course I woke up at the crack of dawn and like any other tech addicted human being, I rolled over to reach for my phone. Uncharacteristically, the twitter app was opened first.
Oh look, The Guinness pint is white. Here, that's a good environmentally sustainable new practice from Tayto to make their crisp bags round. Ulster Fry Boost? Boke. President Trump has taken a sudden interest in the States' annual April Sexual Assault Awareness Month? Okaaaay...
After a few minutes of scrolling. I woke up. As I tweeted - Saturday morning is not the time to be vigilant. It was April Fools Day and our local brands, personalities and media outlets had jumped on the 'holiday' like never before. I love this type of PR for brands, when it is done right of course.
What are benefits of April Fools PR?
It made me think - what are the benefits of April Fools PR? Is it worth the effort and will it affect the bottom line in the end? Were all the attempts good?
Well, let's take a look at a few contenders:
Tayto: new round crisp packets
Our favourite crisp packs are cutting corners and becoming circular.
This is a perfect example of brand awareness and having a bit of craic. They announced, to my knowledge, the "news" via Twitter, and instantly their audience were engaging with them, not just sharing and enjoying the lols, but tweeting suggestions such as "maybe Irwins could launch a round loaf to match?" This is pure gold brand awareness, engagement with their key audience and biggest fans of the cult local product, and it has the sharability factor.
Mash Direct: Beauty product
Another local food brand absolutely killing it in the wider UK market, Mash Direct launched their fabulous new beauty product on Saturday morning - Mash Mask. But wait, they weren't just online. They were on Sky News. In a stroke of comms genius, Mash Direct's marketing and comms team had perfectly executed an integrated comms campaign, invested in video which echoed that of a QVC commercial, and reached out to one of the highest reaching Saturday morning news programmes to give them their lead April Fools story. With shareable content, live demonstrations on air and a very tongue in cheek news release, Mash Direct has given themselves extra visibility in a crowded market, reached millions while they were eating their brekkie on a Saturday morning and has made us all want potato croquettes for our dinner. Also, I would totally try that face mask.
Q Radio: Trump to buy Stormont?
Even the local news outlets, who I have to say have shunned some April Fools Day pieces from us communicators in the past, were getting in on the act. Q Radio broadcast that President Trump had declared that if the folk on The Hill didn't sort it out, he'd buy parliament buildings and make it into one of his 5-star hotels. Oh, and the mile road up to Stormont would be a runway for his private jets. I am humble enough to let you know that I very almost fell for that one. I mean, it's Donald freakin Trump, he has probably thought about it.
News Letter: taking the Mike with new editor announcement
But the News Letter had it in the bag for me. They shared a story on Saturday that outgoing UUP leader Mike Nesbitt would be taking over as Editor of the paper, but continuing to be an MLA. It ticked all the boxes; this could happen! It just did with The Evening Standard who announced just the other week that George Osborne was their new editor. It was relevant; again, a follow up from the GO news and sheer OUTRAGE that followed, it was great that News Letter could poke at it a bit. Finally, it was what we all needed really, wasn't it?
Our news pages have been nothing but sheer doom and gloom lately, and the News Letter has been front and centre with the scoops. It was a good reminder that print media is still relevant and connected to their audiences. Bravo my friends, bravo!
What can we learn?
So, what can we learn from these types of practices? It shows us that there are opportunities for us to have fun with brands we work with. That even activity like this can fit in to our overall strategies and will hopefully, as long as you get it right, have a positive effect on brand awareness and the bottom line. Doing it right means investment in content, relevance, and a good bit of craic.
The cynics will be bored of April Fools PR stories, we see it every year, clambering over each other to get their story out there. But let's lighten up, it's just a bit of fun and something the news agenda needs right now. And this is why I think it has worked this year.
As I write this, there's 15 minutes left of April Fools and I'm remaining vigilant. Be careful out there; in this post-truth world of fake news, viral comms and, quite frankly, Donald Trump, you just never know what could happen.