7 tips for promoting an April Fools’ Day PR stunt


Ah, April Fools’ Day. The one day a year when society finds it more than acceptable for the prankster in all of us to shine. Because, as you know, we’re all ridiculously funny. While there is no denying that April Fools’ Day can provide the perfect opportunity to generate some timely press coverage, I want to encourage you to proceed with caution.

Not all publicity is good publicity.

History has proven that while there are countless PR pranks that are successfully executed on April 1, there are many more that fall flat. And by falling flat, I mean earning them infamy on the Internet and the ire of every reporter and media outlet.

This begs the question of whether an April Fools’ joke is worth the effort.

On one hand, pulling off a PR prank could be an enjoyable team building exercise. On the other, it will tie up your PR resources for days due to planning, preparation, and execution.

To help you decide whether participating in the fun is worth your PR resources, here are our tips for promoting your April Fools’ Day joke.

Keep it funny

I have yet to see an actual playbook for what to do on April Fools’ Day, but I’m convinced if there was one, the first rule would be that April Fools’ Day is about jokes, not sad attempts at gaining publicity.

Sure, bigger brands may get away with publicity ploys this time of year, but the Twitters, BMWs, and Google’s of the world get away with it because they’re giant, global brands.

Keep it simple

When plotting your prank, make sure to stick to April Fools’ Day jokes that are obviously jokes.

As in, so glaringly obvious that your prank is a joke that even an idiot can see it isn’t serious. Or, at the very least, if taken seriously, that revealing your stunt won’t be taken as a negative.

Keep it authentic

When keeping your April Fools’ Day prank simple, it’s still important to also make it feel as authentic as possible.

How? Don’t tell people that your joke is a joke. Obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised how quickly others forget this.

Keep it together

Contrary to what you hear prior to any corporate brainstorming session, there are bad ideas.  Especially around April Fools’ Day.

Remember that whole Google mic drop prank? Ouch.

If you’ve racked your brain, and still don’t feel as if you have anything good to offer up for the holiday, don’t do anything at all. Better nothing than something lame that blows up in your face.

Keep it brief

It also is important to remember that you only have a very short window of time to make your April Fools’ Day joke a success.

Make sure you’ve got everything ready, including all your media materials, social media needs, and whatnot. Plus, if you’re promoting a global brand, do not forget about the multiple time zones you need to account for.

If you must announce a prank, do so before 10:00 am Eastern.

Anything later will seem out of place. More importantly, anything later will miss out on being featured in all the well-read holiday round up articles.

Keep it classy

April Fool’s jokes are usually pretty family friendly. Unless your brand truly is an edgy one, this holiday isn’t the time to take any taste risks for publicity.

Don’t be that brand. Just don’t do it.

Keep it on brand

Yes, April Fools’ Day is a great opportunity to show that your brand has a sense of humor. It also is an excellent chance for you to remind people what it is your brand is about.

Even if they offer lifestyle accessories emblazoned with their car brand logo, I thought BMW’s royal baby pram joke fell flat. However, Virgin Atlantic’s glass-bottomed plane stunt aligned perfectly into the brand’s identity.

How do you plan to use PR around April Fools’ Day to advance your brand? 

Want more helpful tips like the ones above plus more? Check out The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage or signup for exclusive Hearsay content