Tag Archives: public relations

Perception Is Reality


It’s true. If a person perceives a brand, a product, a service, a retailer, a restaurant, etc. to possess certain qualities, it colors all of that person’s interactions with that entity. Even when hard evidence shows the perceived belief is not true.

Certain brands have buzz and are perceived by many to be cool, superior, innovative, etc. The list includes Starbucks, Apple, Uber, IKEA—I’m sure you can name a few more. Even when those cool brands fail or when they “borrow” ideas from others, they are often given a pass because of positive customer perceptions.

The current TV series The People Versus O.J. Simpson reveals incorrect appraisals of potential jurors by both prosecutor Marcia Clark and defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. Each perceived African-American female jurors to be sympathetic to the prosecution’s case. Both were wrong. The scene showing Marcia Clark behind the glass monitoring a focus group as they offer comments about her is powerful and enlightening.

During my radio career, I was reminded many times that perception is reality. If a listener perceives that station A plays more music than station B, it doesn’t matter which station actually plays more music. If a listener thinks a personality is snarky and insensitive, that personality can perform tons of good deeds and still be perceived to be a jerk. A listener’s perception is that listener’s reality.

Because perceptions matter—whether they are based on facts, gossip, online chatter, peer pressure or subtle factors—it is important to work to mold perceptions. Public relations, marketing and social media all play a vital role in creating and reinforcing positive consumer perceptions of a product, a service, a radio station, an idea or a presidential candidate.

It is dangerous to presume that we know how customers or prospects perceive the goods, services and messages we offer. How do we find out what they think? We observe how they act. We monitor their online comments. We ask them. What is their perception? It’s their reality.





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Five Tips for Informal Public Speaking

A recent event in St. Louis featured 6 speakers (5 others and me) offering marketing tips to new business owners. We had an attentive crowd, a comfortable venue (not a classroom) and great coffee!

The format for presenters was simple: Spend 15 minutes on your particular area of expertise. Of course, you cannot completely cover big topics like social media, email marketing, branding, public relations or traditional advertising in 15 minutes. But you can hit some of the major points and share new ideas with the audience.

Based on the event, here are 5 tips that may help you in a similar situation.

  1. Speak often. One of our presenters told me afterward, “That was my first ever presentation.” She did not appear uncomfortable, but she did have difficulty condensing her topic into a 15-minute talk. I strongly encourage you to take every opportunity you can to stand up in front of an audience, even if it’s just a couple of minutes in front of your co-workers or career day at your kid’s school.
  2. Organize your thoughts in detail. You don’t want to write out your remarks word-for-word, but you should have good notes to refer to. You may want more than just simple bullet points.
  3. Rehearse what you’re going to say. Don’t over think it—we are talking about an informal event—but give some thought to timing, transitions and conclusions.
  4. Be careful to distinguish between personal opinion, conventional wisdom and empirical fact. Also, clarify any sweeping declarations. (Example: When you say LinkedIn is better for business than Facebook, you might want to point out that you mean for business-to-business, not business-to-consumer.)
  5. If an audience member has good input, go with it. During the remarks about traditional advertising, a USPS rep in our audience took a moment to talk about a new localized direct mail program. Hers was good information for fellow attendees.

The best way to get better at anything—writing, golfing, cooking, etc.—is to keep doing it. This idea certainly applies to public speaking.

When will you next be asked to speak before a group of people? It could be two years from now or it could be this week. When you are given the chance, go for it!






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