I hate April Fools’ Day

But particularly, April Fools’ Day in the media.

Now, I realise that this is going to make me sounds like a pretentious, snobby, stuck-up bitch. Frankly, I don’t care. I’ve been called those names more times than I care to count. Once extremely publicly.

But wow. I hate April Fools’ Day. The jokes are pretty much entirely transparent, and the originality is diluted tenfold when posting in the social media space. I only saw two half-way decent attempts today. Most people post a variation of the “OMG! I’m pregnant!”/”Sarah is now listed as In a Relationship”/”Bob is no longer listed as Engaged” blah blah blah. It’s almost always lame. So I ignore everything that goes on Facebook the whole of 1 April.

But what ticks me off more than unoriginal crap on Twitter is April Fools’ attempts in the mass media. I work in the media and I steadfastly refuse to get involved in the fuckery. Why? A number of reasons.

1) As the media – and yes, maybe I’m still super-idealistic, but you know what, I don’t care – we have a responsibility to make sure that what we are is accurate and trustworthy. Playing a “prank” does not fall into that mandate. People are stupid, they largely believe what you tell them.

2) It dilutes the credibility of the rest of your content. That’s a non-brainer, really.

3) The world is getting smaller. Content is shared more easily. Your April Fools’ prank can go “viral” – and that’s not a good thing. Especially if it’s picked up by another media outlet (who yes, should be checking everything, but sometimes that’s not possible). Once that’s happened, are you one hundred percent sure your funny (for now) story is going to be revealed as a prank? Once the content’s out there, you’ve got no control over where it goes. And what if you’re Google?

4) It makes my life – as a wannabe-credible-producer-of-news-yes-even-celebrity-news-shuddup-I’ll-change-the-world-one-day – a living bloody hell. Why? Because I spend all day researching everything in case some wise-ass has decided to slip an April Fools’ Day joke in somewhere. Thankfully I’m pretty good at spotting them a mile away.

All of this hatred, of course, could stem from an April Fools’ Day joke some idiot kids played on me when I was younger. They tried to tell me I was adopted – which would have worked better if my mum hadn’t told me my birth story pretty much from the time I was five.

*I realise this is very rant-y. I’m tired and grumpy and pretty much everything is putting me in a bad mood this weekend. 

An open letter to PR people

This doesn’t apply to all of the PR people that I deal with. I have some dear, dear favourites (I bet you know who you are) who I do go that extra, extra mile to help out. I know some PR people that are so wildly excellent at their jobs that they probably deserve some kind of medal. This open letter is directed to those PR people who, from where I sit, look like they couldn’t care less about their jobs.

Dear Public Relations Person:

I get it, I do. You’re under pressure to sell your product. I’m under pressure to attract readers to my site. We need each other. Yes, I’ll admit it. I need you. It’s a difficult, complicated relationship. I’ve done some bad things, but so have you. In the interests of getting our relationship back to where it should be, I’ve compiled a list of small changes that you can make – and then some ways in which I can change.

  1. Please at least try to get my name right. I understand that I’m just one on a list of 500 names that you need to deal with, but how can I take the rest of what you’re saying seriously if you don’t take the time to check that you have my name written correctly. I’ll tell you a secret: We like to feel special. Spelling my name (which is “Candace”, by the way) as “Candice”, “Candance” or, true story, “Can” does not make me feel special. It makes me feel as though you don’t care.
  2. Please run your press release through a spell-check… And think before you click “Accept change”.  If I want to publish your press release, I want to do it with as little effort as possible. I do not have a team of journalists at my bidding, I’m afraid, so correcting the spelling and grammar so that I can use your press release just isn’t feasible for me. Make it easier for me, and I will be more likely to publish your piece. (*In all seriousness, when you learn public relations and marketing, is there a writing component?)
  3. Do not use 500 different types of formatting (bold, italics, underline, different sized fonts and bright colours) – I just have to strip it all out anyway. Also, please do not just send me a flyer/PDF/JPEG image. I am an online publication. I can’t use your pretty pretty flyer. It doesn’t fit in my template. (And no, I can’t change my template “just this once”.)
  4. Please attach an image to your email if you can. It stops me from having to request one from you within 30 seconds of receiving your mail. If you can’t attach images because you’re mass mailing, then please ensure that the time between my requesting an image and you sending one is less than a space of hours. I work online. If you have to source an image from somebody, please tell me so I can be prepared.
  5. Please do not call to check whether I received your press release. Unless you got a bounce-back, I did receive it. I may have chosen to ignore it, but I did receive it. If you absolutely must phone (and I know that for many of you, it is in your job description), then there is a certain… Etiquette that should be followed. Generally, I answer the phone with my name. This is because I pronounce my name “Cand-ACE” and not “Cand-uhs”. Do not then greet me with “Hi Candice”. No, I did not mispronounce my own name. Also, please, introduce yourself early in the phone call. Preferably before you’ve asked how I am. “Hi Candace, this is Sarah from Imaginary Press Releases calling. How are you?” is better than “Hi Candace, How are you?” The latter will get a snappy response. Or be met with dead silence. Next part of the phone call is usually “I’m just calling to check whether you got my press release”. And what was it about? When did you send it? I get a minimum of between 80 and 100 emails a day. I can’t remember them all. Some details go a long way to helping to jog my memory. “I’m just calling to check whether you got the press release that I sent on Thursday about the Imaginary Music Event” helps me to go yes/no/maybe more quickly.
  6. Please please please do not spam me with press releases regarding your event/competition/promotion/brand. The more I get spammed by you, the more I am likely to ignore your emails. Do not send me the same email twice. Do not send me five emails a week about your project. They will get ignored.
  7. I physically can’t make all of your events. I wish I could. I wish I could clone myself and have little versions of me going to events and writing about them. But I can’t do it, I’m sorry. Please don’t sound so hurt when I say I can’t attend. It’s not you, it’s me. Really.

And speaking of me, I do agree that I haven’t been an angel in all of this either. And for that, I do apologise.

I promise to RSVP promptly to events, even if I cannot attend.

I promise to publish press releases and promotional materials on time if I say that I will, and if they are relevant to my audience.

I promise to return phone calls and emails if needed.

I promise to at least try to write/tweet/Facebook about your event after I have attended. Sometimes I can’t because once I’ve been to the event, I’ve seen it just won’t appeal to my audience, but I will try.

I promise to make sure that all the information you request is in the article on my site and I promise to include links where relevant.

And I promise to moan, just a little less, when you send me the fiftieth press release for the same event.