All Fun and PRanks

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Posted: April 1, 2:10 p.m.

by Haley Petrey.

It’s finally April. Where did the semester go?! If your company is still deciding what prank to pull, you have some big shoes to fill.

Exactly one year ago, Buzzfeed published a list of the “20 Best April Fools PR Pranks.” The list includes the Domino’s Edibox, the Google+ +David Hasselhoff photobomb and Netflix’s new original movie “Sizzling Bacon – 20 lip-smacking minutes of bacon frying in a pan.” Thanks, Buzzfeed, America needed one more reason to procrastinate.

16372294393_2284018a4f_oGoogle is no stranger to the April Fools game, with the Google Maps treasure hunt and Google Translate for animals. Last year was no exception. In 2014, Google had the last laugh as it “searched” for the “best Pokémon Master.” In order to complete the challenge, participants had to find all of the 150 Pokémon hidden in the latest version of the Google Maps app. The winner would start the job as the Google Pokémon Master in September 2014; however, in the disclaimer of the video, Google notes that the position is “not yet available.” Well done, Google, well done.

Last night, Google was at it again – silly kids. Today, and yesterday thanks to China, when using Google Maps you are given the option to play Pac-man in your own neighborhood. Just remember to watch out for Pinky, Blinky and the rest of the crew – they have the right of way.

However, if you’re new to the industry and not yet an established powerhouse such as Google, PR Daily suggests holding back on the PR pranking – and for good reason.

Pranks, although harmless, are not always apparent. When pulling pranks, you risk your reputation as a professional and trusted source, and it could also damage your relationships with reporters. Moreover, you put the journalists’ credibility on the chopping block. Cue the Brian Williams’ flashback, and let’s all reminisce on the destruction a little exaggeration can bring.

And because the punch line isn’t always clear, customers may be the last ones laughing. The last thing you want is for your brand to suffer and lose customer loyalty and potential clients.

Last, but certainly not least, to consider is the immortality of social media. While the great pranks of Google will live forever in the archives of the Internet, negative reactions to pranks will do the same. We all remember the year Uncle Joe asked everyone to pull his finger at the Thanksgiving table. . . So for the sake of your crisis communication team, leave the PR pranking to the pros.

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