‘Fall Back’ Deals with Bad Reputation as Daylight Savings Time Ends

face of a clock

If you haven’t heard, remember to fall back this weekend. Daylight Savings Time (DST) ends Nov. 7 and Standard Time returns. This allows an extra hour for teenagers to avoid curfews, tired parents to enjoy 60 more minutes of sleep (hopefully) and bar goers to down an additional pint or two before closing—but the majority of public opinion about Standard Time is unpleasant.

Winter can be long, and it’s tough to end work when it’s dark outside. Standard Time deals with a pretty bad reputation owing to the public’s love of sunshine. 

Sunshine, Darkness and Outrage

For most Americans, setting clocks back or forth one hour twice yearly can cause confusion and abrupt changes to daily routines. And many don’t understand the point.

Only about 70 countries adjust their clocks, according to the NY Times. In addition, “even in the U.S. there’s no cohesion around Daylight Time; Arizona and Hawaii don’t make the switch.”

The Farmer’s Almanac provides context. Starting in 1918, the U.S. adopted DST and Standard Time as a fuel-saving measure for World War I. Yet the Almanac also features an Associated Press-National Opinion Research Center for Public Affairs study, which shows most Americans oppose clock changing.  

Indeed, we found some on social media exasperated.  


Spring Forward, Fall Back

The spring clock change also is annoying. We lose an hour of sleep. But when we're able to play softball in the park at 8 p.m. and enjoy dinner on the patio at 9 p.m., most of us forget the momentary pain. 

Still, arguments supporting time changes are few. Even many farmers, who the public thinks benefits from DST, do not appreciate the time change, according to Farmer’s Almanac. 

“There is a common myth that DST was established to extend the daylight hours for farmers,” the Almanac says. “This is not true. Farmers were extremely opposed to having to turn their clocks forward and back twice a year.”

Gene White, associate at Reputation Partners, acknowledges the core of the public’s frustration and what needs to be addressed. 

“Reservations around daylight savings time for most are tied to the hassle of switching back and forth biannually and not around actual policy considerations,” White says. “It’s important to know where people’s emotions to this change stem from and focus on communicating the benefits to them in anecdotal ways.”

Standard Time Needs Some Good PR

For fun, we asked several PR professionals how they'd represent DST and Standard Time. Most agreed clock-changing could use some good, old-fashioned reputation repair. 

Tip 1: Promote the extra hour

“I’d build a campaign around ways people spend their extra hour. Seems like a fun piece of research to commission to find out how people use that time. Partnering with a coffee or breakfast brand seems an obvious nod. Also likely a good push for media outlets like the New York Times. ‘Never have time to read the Sunday paper? That extra hour just gave you your crossword time back!’” 

—Sara Joseph, SVP, lifestyle and hospitality lead, BerlinRosen  

Tip 2: Full transparency

Establishing trust with an audience is a top priority, and open communication is valued by all stakeholders, whether good or bad. If only in the weeks approaching [the end of] Daylight Savings, there would be more honesty around some of the common side-effects people experience after setting their clocks back—including irritability, shortness of temper, confusion on when to go to bed, etc. That way, everyone can prepare for what may come and have an action plan in place on how to overcome this very real challenge.”

—Haley Hartmann, associate, Reputation Partners

Tip 3: Prepare the experts

“I recommend DST assemble a team of subject-matter experts to talk about the health benefits and debunk the myths. A psychologist can talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder and the benefits of sunlight. A cardiologist can address the claims that [DST/Standard Time switches] cause heart attacks. Find some mom-fluencers to counterbalance the parents who complain about their child waking too early and to offer tips on adjusting sleep schedules during fall-back.”

—Hinda Mitchell, president, Inspire PR Group

Tip 4: When all else fails—rebrand!

“Everyone associates [fall back] with their world getting darker earlier, and for a lot longer… At this point [Standard Time] just needs to own that—change the name to Dark Mode or Energy Saving Mode. Dark Mode means being able to get to bed early and not worry about the Sun peeking through the blinds, for example—or not feeling guilty about lighting some candles for ambience and light. Who doesn’t want that? It’s relaxing, helps you re-fuel, and not to mention more eco-friendly if the lights are always off. I imagine a full-scale campaign and partnerships with Gravity Blankets and Yankee Candle.”

—Emily Miller, director, Cheer Partners

Nicole Schuman is a reporter for PRNEWS. Follow her @buffalogal