When an Innocent Joke Goes Terribly Wrong

It’s natural to want to goof off at work every now and then. As long as productivity isn’t noticeably impacted, some employers don’t mind if their employees have a little fun. One popular day for businesses to get a little silly, especially media companies, is April Fools’ Day.

Google and its subsidiaries are perhaps the most famous pranksters every April 1st but they are far from the only ones. In the midst of a heated race for the Republican nomination for President, Len Burman of Forbes.com posted a satirical news item on Sunday declaring that Mitt Romney dropped out of the race and would be endorsing Rick Santorum’s candidacy.

While the faux quotes from Romney and Santorum may have been enough to tip off many readers that it was a joke, the “news” soon hit Twitter and briefly claimed the top spot on Google News. Forbes editors removed it about a half hour after it was posted. Other media outlets criticized Forbes and its credibility for publishing the story without clearly marking it as satire.

When you have a reputation for seriousness, it can be hard to break out of that shell because of the expectations others put on you. If you’re not careful, your efforts to do so can backfire and receive more scorn than laughs. When it comes to joking around at work, make it abundantly clear that you’re not serious, even if it is April Fools’ Day. You may get a chuckle or laugh but preserve your reputation and credibility. You can learn more about the Forbes incident from The Washington Post or from Len Burman himself.

Speaking that Connects