I was born on April 15th, so maybe I am an April Fool. But even if I am, for many years I took this day very seriously, planning and executing elaborate media-based hoaxes. I stopped a few years ago, but I'm not sure why. Maybe I simply got bored. Maybe it became too easy -- or too hard -- to be believed. Maybe I thought I might get into real trouble.
As in the past, reaction within Panasonic was mixed. There was some laughter, some grumbling, and some snarling. One outraged exec sent a email saying that I caused "people to loose (sic) thousands of productive working hours." Maybe he needs a new calculator.
Perhaps Panasonic was talking to its lawyers, but a lawsuit would only mean more fun for me and bad publicity for them. I assume common sense would prevent them from from taking me to court. After all, I said only good things about the company, and it would be hard for them to prove any loss. Even more importantly, they'd certainly lose in the "court of public opinion."
A few hours after the news went out, I authorized an official retraction through PR Newswire, the same service that sent out the original press release, but the original news has continued to circulate and expand.
Because of the trouble I caused, I was banned for life by PR Newswire. That banning is the prankster equivalent of an Oscar. Now I use PR Newswire's competitors. Haha.
Some websites that received the retraction accused me of forgetting what day it was. One humor critic said it was a "late, poorly executed April Fools joke," and another called me an "April Idiot."
Actually it was not late, and it was extremely well executed, and my mother didn't have any stupid kids.
There's certainly no rule that limits hoaxing to one day per year. No one who was filmed for TV's Candid Camera on 3/20 or 10/15 objected because it wasn't 4/1. Similarly the celebrities who were victims on the MTV show Punk'd may have grumbled, but not because they were not punked on the first day of the fourth month. And the subjects of "Stuttering John" interviews on The Howard Stern Show didn't check the date before deciding to participate.
I was born in April but I'm not an April Idiot. I was smart enough to write the phony news in a certain way, and send it on a day, that increased the likelihood of its publication. I am not the idiot. I wasn't "punked." I didn't publish a phony news story on my website.
Some victims were at least partially complimentary.
Dailytech.com said "Yesterday AbleComm sent out a press release that was all very believable talking about how Panasonic was going to be using small plasma displays in a mobile phone designed to be used on the new AT&T Mobile TV service launching in May. The release was professional, interesting and all very plausible replete with quotes form Panasonic and all. It didn’t take long before the story was all around the internet with posts on Engadget, Slashphone and more. As a freelance guy I posted the story myself at some other publications."
Some websites were actually suspicious of the retraction. Phonemag.com said it "Looks like someone let the plasma cat out of the proverbial bag too soon, and is now desperately backtracking to try to salvage a business relationship. It’s unclear whether this was a deliberate or accidental occurrence, though the release was sizable and contained multiple quotes from all the parties involved which lends weight to the idea that it was an authentic document prematurely distributed." GOTCHA!