Think about these etiquette tips before you think about pulling a prank.
I’ve been very disturbed by the passing of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse involved in the recent royal hoax. An innocent prank phone call, made by two Australian DJ’s to the hospital in the UK where Kate Middleton was being treated for acute morning sickness, may have led* to the death of a 46 year old nurse. It is the end of the radio careers for both DJs, who describe themselves as “shattered, gutted, heartbroken”, and will no doubt have a number of other consequences that can’t yet be seen.
While most pranks don’t end up this way, before even the simplest prank is pulled it has to be completely thought (and felt) through. Unfortunately, there is not a resource for Hoax or Prank Etiquette. If you search online you can only find a few blog mentions, so here is my attempt to provide some food for thought on Prank Etiquette.
1) Consider – think through all the possibilities of who may be affected by your prank. My training at the The Emily Post Institute taught me that if you do not know the specific etiquette for something, just apply the general principles of etiquette (consideration, respect and honesty) and you will always behave in an appropriate manner.
2) Make A “What If” Plan – think through your prank and all the different possible turns it could take. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, come up with next steps for each possible outcome.
“I mean we'd assumed that we'd be hung up on and that'd be that," said Michael Christian. The problem was they were not just “hung up on”. Had they come up with a “what if” scenario for actually getting through to someone at the hospital this tragedy may have been avoided.
3) Check Back – The prank is over and hopefully, there were a lot of good laughs. You must check back with everyone involved to ensure there are no hurt feelings (and be prepared with heartfelt apologies if there are) or any other damage (physical or otherwise) that has to be cleaned up. It’s your prank and your responsibility.
*The death of Jacintha Saldanha is being called an “apparent suicide” and there has not been an official link made between the royal hoax and her death. Regardless, all of Ovation Communication sends their deepest sympathies to the Saldanha family.