PRactical PRanks

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Posted At: April 1, 2013 2:25 P.M.
by Taylor Hodgkinson

The day when devilish deeds are expected, anticipated and awaited is upon us. People often plot April Fool’s Day pranks to pull on their dearest friends and family without stopping to consider if harmless jokes could hurt relationships. It’s the kid in all of us that finds pranks funny and hysterical, but we are more or less agitated if we are the victim.

If studying PR has taught me anything it’s this: Build relationships and work to maintain them.

Practical pranks leave a large margin of error when deciding what’s appropriate and what’s not. External relationships, like clients and media, differ from internal relationships with co-workers and supervisors, so it is key to take into consideration the audience receiving the joke. Warning: Humor and sarcasm are hard to detect at any age.

Here’s a PRactical PRank gone sour, very quickly:

According to Business Insider, in 2011 Toyota and its ad agency pranked a woman with the help of her friend to convince the woman she was being stalked by “Sebastian Bowler” through a series of texts, emails and phone calls. On the last day of the prank the woman being “stalked” and “terrorized” was directed to a web page explaining Toyota’s campaign, “Your Other You,” for Toyota’s car, the Matrix.

Needless to say the subsequent lawsuit was not a part of Toyota’s plan.

Pranksters often forget the repercussions. Yet, there are harmless pranks that won’t jeopardize or ruin relationships in the work place and some may even be intrigued with the company’s culture.

Here are some PRactical PRanks done tastefully:

Not only is Twttr charging for vowels on today’s special holiday, leading to some unhappy tweethearts, but it appears Woodstock, Snoopy’s bird, has some feathers to pick as well.

Peanuts Worldwide LLC  Press Release

Google has mastered the art of playing pranks and has managed to make full use of April Fool’s Day. People are finally learning money doesn’t grow on trees, but in smart phones.Google Commerce

 

Simply putting Scotch tape on the bottom of a computer mouse can stump a co-worker for a few minutes without humiliation or aggravation, making it an appropriate practical prank at the office.

After April Fool’s Day pranks, some businesses will resume protocol and some may be on damage control, indefinitely. So stay tuned.

As PR practitioners, we should take into consideration co-workers’ and supervisors’ expectations and sense of humor to help gauge what’s an appropriate prank.

Are your pranks burning or building bridges?

2 Comments

  1. Katie Snyder

    I enjoyed reading this article in light of April Fool’s Day last week. As so much of communication in our generation is online, sarcasm and meanness are so hard to differentiate. There are always going to be messages disseminated that seem funny to the company or organization but are not perceived well by the public. As PR practitioners, we need to take the skills we learn at Alabama and apply them in the real world. Doing research and utilizing focus groups before messages or ad campaigns are implemented and making sure there is humor instead of meanness are crucial. I liked the examples you used to show friendly, cute examples of pranks from large companies. I also noticed Twitter is spelled wrong, oops!

    Reply

  2. Taylor Hodgkinson

    Thank you, Katie! I enjoyed writing about this topic, because I completely agree with you on how important it is to know your target audience. Knowing who’s receiving your message helps determine what’s appropriate, especially when using humor. Twitter tried its hand at being funny, by announcing it would be selling vowels to Twitter users on April Fool’s Day. So Twitter became Twttr only for a day.

    -Taylor

    Reply

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