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Image Management and Public relations

We specialise in institutional and governmental organisations, which can find it difficult to draw upon internal resources to manage how people perceive them as the entity, or aspects of what they are doing. This is one area of activity where it is a positive advantage to be outside an organisation, yet working closely with its strategies.

There are two principal strands to image management. One is the preservation and augmentation of an already benign image; the other is damage limitation and repair.

Here are some observations which will give an insight into how we think.

First and foremost there are limitations to what image management can do. Nothing could repair the Enron or Arthur Andersen images. Images must have truth behind them.

An individual's accumulated knowledge, experience and personal outlook on life is a significant influence. A consumer who has used a service or purchased a certain brand for years is unlikely to jump on any bandwagon trying to induce him away.

Add to this a healthy mistrust of media hype and a natural disposition to trust one's own judgement. People who observe an organisation's development over time are not likely to be stampeded into totally contrary imutable opinion because some alleged irregularity suddenly pops up.

Nevertheless, the rapid pace of social, political and technological change has clearly increased the consumer's need for authenticity - and that desire has been magnified by a perceived scarcity of integrity and consistency in the public arena. What this means for organisations, institutions and government agencies is quite clear: presence and visibility are vital in order to build up that capital of trust.

All trust is created slowly. It results from consistency between word and deed, from truthfully argued positions and from the willingness to adapt and to learn. It also comes from the courage to say some things clearly, even though it might provoke short-term negative reactions. It comes from saying openly if things have gone wrong.

And of course, there are a few occasions when remaining silent is best. It all depends on the circumstances.