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
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.