Speaking of idioms, I never use one for this type problem, but here is a more idiomatic solution (if u ask me)
my ($x,$y,$z) = (undef,'hello',undef);
$_ ||='' for $x,$y,$z;
print "x='$x' y='$y' z='$z'\n";
## OR EVEN (most idiomatic imho)
$_||='' for my($a,$b,$c)=(undef,9,undef);
print "a='$a' b='$b' c='$c'\n";
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