“Why change the world when all you need to change people’s perception?” — Claudia Bing, a PR magnate character in Absolutely Fabulous.
The older I get, the less concerned I am about trying to “manage” other people’s perception. These days I am more concerned with telling it as I see it, saying what is true to me.
The reality is people will take things I say as they will, through their own filters and beliefs, regardless of how I phrase something. Hey, that’s how I myself perceive the messages I hear.
The same goes for marketing and PR in business. There’s a truism one often hears bandied around PR circles – “it’s all about perceptions.” In this day and age of radical transparency brought about by the Internet, sooner or later this approach will be revealed as fake.
Perception management is most aggressive when it comes to how businesses handle problems. The default response is one of glib whitewashing. It focuses away from trying to find solutions, of acknowledging customers’ pain; and instead diverts attention to the spinning of well … lies.
Apple seems to be doing that quite a bit over their embarrassing iPhone 4 antenna problem.
What happened to “Oh no I screwed up. I am sorry. Let me fix it…”? Or “This is how I see it. I am sorry you feel upset by it, but I won’t whitewash it for you.”
Want to be authentic? Acknowledge the mistakes and make good as best as you can! Everything else is just PR bullpoop, the stuff the eats away at trust.
It works both ways too. When you are known to be upfront and honest about your mistakes, people will be way more willing to embrace your accomplishments and achievements.