Perception Management

Communication is an art and science. It is art because it demands social skills and because language is imprecise; it is science because there is process, structure, strategy. Time invested in perfecting communications will help enterprises protect and enhance their reputations in a globalised economy. Reputation is a most fragile thing. It takes years to build and minutes to take apart. Therefore, in order to accentuate communication techniques, practical realities, benchmark comparabilities, sophisticated interdependence, marketing concepts, and mutual accountability required to move beyond mere survival, this study will describe, develop, and delineate “perception management” as a strategic design and action agenda for turning passive reactions into proactive realities.

Communication is the primary tool for managing perceptions to motivate the desired behaviour. Perception Management concentrates on the perceptions of relevant target audiences. Recognition and analysis of an existing perception is the starting point for its development, modification or maintenance.

The content or visual design of Perception Management communication measures or instruments are oriented to achieving the desired effect and perception. The success of any communication activity is therefore measured by its targeted effect and the perception achieved.

When David Ogilvy famously declared that the consumer is not a moron she is your wife, he might as well have added -" If she perceives you as loyal she'll buy more," implying that it is perceptions that define every buy-sell reaction. And communications is the primary tool for managing perceptions to motivate the desired behaviour in the target audience.

This is understood very well in marketing. If we want the target audience to buy something, we must create a need and manage the audience's perception so that it feels that need and belief that the product will satiate it.

There's a difference here between manipulation (creating something that people really don't need and creating an impression in their minds that they need it) and giving people both the opportunity to express a need and the best way to fullfill that need through products, services, etc.! The aim of the present project is to demonstrate the visual, social, psychological and cultural aspects of perception management in communication and advertising in today’s world especially in Turkey. The project will represent the relationship between communication and perception management in terms of cultural dimension and public relations. The project will represent a research on advertisement history of Turkey within the cultural and local influences.

The definition of Perception Management is; actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning; and to intelligence systems and leaders at all levels to influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in foreign behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator's objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover and deception, and psychological operations.

Communications is the means to manage perceptions, to create behaviour patterns for business success. These days companies should have a specific function for perception management as they have specialists to manage monetary assets, people assets and technological assets with systems and precision. They are rigorous about measuring the results of efforts in every area, and yet fail to have a specific function that manages the perceptual assets of a company or a product.

When we ask any executive to analyse the value of his company's shares. In almost every case, the logical explanation which includes price earnings, ratios, dividend policies and returns on investments only makes up about 60 to 70 per cent of the market valuation. The rest has to do with perceptions: perceptions of management quality, perceptions of industry outlook, perceptions of the quality of a company's strategy, perceptions of brand value. And yet those perceptions are seldom systematically managed. They may be managed by an investor relations person or function, a role which often tends to be reactive and fact-driven. If a company has to succeed in today's marketplace it has to shape perceptions to achieve desired business results with the financial community, consumers, and policy makers to get into the heads and hearts of their audiences.

Perceptions are real. They color what we see, how we interpret, what we believe, and how we behave. They create or diminish value. They generate or solve problems. So powerful are our perceptions that many psychologists believe that “perception is reality” (Cialdini, 1984; Strauch, 1989). Perceptions come in two forms: experiential and intellectual. “Experiential perception” is kinesthetic in origin – we develop these perceptions through our senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Our proverbial sixth sense – knowing about something – defines the realm of “intellectual perception.”Intellectual perception is more elusive.

Every audience has its own perceptual framework. At the most fundamental level, science tells us that the process of bringing about perceptual change has both rational and emotional components and is as dependent on cues and symbols as it is on actual content (Cialdini, 1984).

1.3.the process
As communicators and perception managers, must always consider both the rational content of the messages and the perceived meaning. We must ask ourselves: what will the listener actually hear, given who they are, what they care about, and how they feel about the context and message sender? And, we must never forget that emotion has much more to do with behavior than reason does. Managing perceptions means communicating with an outside-in perspective. Messages must be measured by their ability to change or enhance perceptions held by the stakeholder group towards the enterprise, company or brand. In moving from Perception to Reality, companies can manage and turn around negative perceptions of their organisations. Meanwhile, companies can also build value and enhance reputational assets by managing positive perceptions to advantage. They must recognise perception gaps where they exist, and address them through appropriate change programmes. It is important to begin the task of communicating messages founded on truth and fact. The perception management process is a continuum and it begins and ends with research. The role of communication is an essential part of the process.

Changing perceptions requires powerful combinations of messages, messengers and media. One must alter the media used to reach key audiences. Tunes and symbols can be more important than substance as behavioural scientists say, reason persuades but emotion motivates. In today's world, one must create motivating communications, which have emotional relevance to the listeners that one wants to reach. Only those who manage to create a sufficient and satisfactory presence on the market, let alone leave a solid perception in people’s minds, have a chance of long-term success. However, making one’s presence or values known requires effort and attention to detail as well as consistency and focus.

Perceptions can be more powerful than reality. In the financial marketplace, the value of a stock can be driven up or down by expectations for the future. So is it a powerful idea that drives the company, or is it the perception of a powerful idea that drives the company? In government relations and public affairs, companies often try to influence the minds of government officials about an issue or a proposal. Perceptions differentiate a product and make it relevant to the consumer, allowing for a premium price. Perceptions filter what we see, how we comprehend and infer, what we believe, and how we act. They add or diminish value. The brand itself, for a start, is a perception. A bad perception can be disastrous. Even the rise and fall of companies and brands may depend upon the consumer perceptions. The effective management of perceptions can translate into success or failure in the market place.

Tenets of perception management (PM) include questions like:
Who is the audience? What is the current mind-set? What do they think now about this company or this product? Who has the greatest influence over these people and what is the best selling proposition? What is the best message that can be offered to help them understand the company point of view? And finally, how can one reach them with the power and the impact that gets them to want to buy or to recommend buying the stock/product? How does one increase the perceptual asset which is critical to the valuation of the share? In this day and age, companies cannot afford not to manage perceptions of these critical audiences. It should be part of competitive strategies. It should also be part of business strategies. Use of basic communication techniques to get into the heads and hearts of stakeholders leads to-identification of current perceptions, targeting key groups, refocusing on reality, and bringing about desired behaviors and measurable results.

2.1.psychological aspects
The only method of advertising known to the ancients was the word of mouth. The merchant who had wares to offer brought them to the gate of a city and there cried aloud, making the worth of his goods known to those who were entering the city, and who might be induced to turn aside and purchase them. We are not more amused by the simplicity of the ancients than we are amazed at the magnitude of the modern systems of advertising. As soon as printed symbols were invented the advertising man made use of them to give publicity to his merchandise. We find advertisements engraved on walls and tombs, written on parchment and papyrus, and printed by the first printing presses. Although these various forms of advertising were employed, but little thought and care seem to have been expended upon them. Postells, painted signs, street-car placards, booklets, calendars, almanacs, handbills, magazine and newspaper advertising have now become forms of advertising so well established that we look upon them as a necessity, and are surprised to learn that most of them are modern innovations.

Today, our environment is dominated by the visual. This research explores "visual intelligence" as a basic and indispensable tool of cultural survival. The aim is to offer a practical manual on a non-superficial level and how images are processed, how they function in relation to our innermost beings, and how they form the psychological fabric of our political, social, and economic environment. How we derive meaning from images and examines perceptual process, how it has evolved, and the role it plays in our thinking. By examining the concept of rationality and explores how visual logic works to create meaning. In the research I will try to go behind the obvious and beyond the superficial as it critically examines the visual power and logic of images, cutting across a variety of areas: perceptual psychology, art, television, film, literature, advertising, and politics. Also visual intelligence examines the role which various media play in creating the images which impact our lives: how visual images create a language with profound psychological meaning, and how print, television, and film media manipulate images to create desired emotional effects.

Every day, consumers are exposed to no less than 1000 commercial messages (Meyers-Levy & Malaviya 1999). Of all the different techniques and strategies that try to make an advertisement most effective there is an underlying principle – persuasion. The whole point of any marketing ploy is to get the audiences attention and then change the mind to believe that their product or service is the best. There are a variety of different mediums in which consumers are exposed to advertisements: television, radio, magazines, newspapers, billboards, and public transportation. In all types of media, persuasion is used; yet there is not one theory that can establish a single hypothesis as to the direct route a message takes to make a favourable judgement.

Kenny & Associates highly trained analysts give one explanation. They have conducted research in consumer psychology and have come up with “the right brain analysis”. It explains the “why” aspect behind consumer decisions and behaviours. First and foremost, we must distinguish the right brain from the left- brain. The right side of the brain is responsible for emotions, creativity, motivation and long-term memory. The advertising stimulus acts on emotions and barriers that drive consumer decisions and behaviour.

However, it is what goes beyond consumer rationalization that makes the basis for strategic direction and decision-making. It is the emotion that makes the decision not the rationalization. For example, someone going to buy a car would go to a Ford dealership first because one finds it to be attractive, reliable and honest. It’s all in the advertisement!!

Advertisements are designed to communicate effectively with the consumer. This is done by appealing to the right brain by using “words, symbols, and illustration that are meaningful, familiar, and attractive to people” (Pride et al., 1998). In addition to this perspective, gender, age, education, race, income, occupation, etc. all affect what it is we like in an advertisement. For example, when a toothpaste brand is marketed to adults, they emphasize plaque and tartar control, whereas for kids, it emphasizes daily brushing and cavity control along with recognizable characters.

In essence, there are numerous things about an ad that catch our attention and lure us into buying things. A good majority of that consumer decision is rooted in the right side of the brain where your emotion directs choice. Demographics such as gender and location play a role in consumer decisions resulting from watching an ad. Many theories have been developed over time as to what psychologically, attracts us to an ad: is it colour? Design? How pretty it looks to the eye? All are questions that can be answered accordingly to the advertisement depicted. aspects
Advertising's influence within three key social domains: the new commodities industry, popular culture, and the mass media that manages the constellation of images that unifies all three.

The social aspect of advertising typically involves the last two principles: complete information and absence of externalities. In fact, social issue debates can be seen as instances where advertising tends to violate one or more of these basic economic principles. We can examine many issues from these two perspectives. Some of the most important are deception and manipulation in advertising, the effect of advertising on our value system, commercial clutter, stereotypes and offensiveness.

For advertising to be effective, consumers must have confidence in it. So any kind of deception not only detracts from the complete information principle of free enterprise but also risks being self-defeating. Even meaningless (but legal) puffery might be taken literally and therefore become deceptive. Puffery refers to exaggerated, subjective claims that can’t be proven true or false, such as “the best,” “premier,” or “the only way to fly.” Under current advertising law, the only product claims—explicit or implied—that are considered deceptive are those that are factually false or convey a false impression and therefore have the potential to deceive or mislead reasonable people. But puffery is excluded from this requirement because regulators maintain that reasonable people don’t believe it anyway. Since advertisers regularly use puffery and nonproduct facts to enhance the image of their products, they must think consumers do believe it. Nonproduct facts are not about the brand but about the consumer or the social context in which the consumer uses the brand. An example is “Pepsi. The choice of a new generation.” The fact is that advertising, by its very nature, is not complete information. It is based in favor of the advertiser and the brand. People expect advertisers to be proud of their products and probably don’t mind if they puff them a little. But when advertisers cross the line between simply giving their point of view and creating false expectations, that’s when people begin to object. One problem is the difficulty of seeing the line, which may be drawn differently by different people.

If you think about all the products you buy, how many involve a choice between different brands and different styles? And how many involve a decision based on price or convenience? Probably most. So how many of your purchases can you trace to having been helplessly manipulated? Probably none. You receive information from many different sources: friends and relatives, store displays, ads, packaging, and retail store clerks. At some point, you make a decision. In many cases, your decision is not to buy at all—to wait for either more information or more money. As always, the customer, acting in his or her own self-interest, is king.

2.3.cultural aspects
Culture plays a central role in persuasive advertisements. Objects, ideas and concepts are created in a cultural context and conveyed by linguistic or non-linguistic signs. Brislin (1990: 9-11) defines culture as recurring patterns of behaviours. These patterns of behaviour are employed by advertisers to manipulate and persuade the receivers to simulate consumer behaviour depicted in the advertisements.

This brings one to the question of the role of culture in language and the significance of culture in advertisements. McCarthy and Carter (1994: viii) state that any experience or interpretation is preceded by meanings already given within a culturally relative tradition and mediated through language.

The individual is defined by her/his culture; no single person exists in a void. The person might belong to one culture or more. The individual’s cultural identity anchors him/her psychologically and within society. Individuals are always linked to their nation, their race and their species. This forms a connection to sociality, which is understood by means of language.

The importance of culture has become more and more recognised within the field of marketing during the past decade. If this is the case, advertising as a marketing tool has to pay special attention to the cultures of consumers. The assumption is that any cultural identity is expressed in signs (whether verbal or non-verbal). Thus, "these signs form a system of different ‘identity demarcations’ which can be considered cornerstones in the construction of a sociocultural identity" (Askegaard 1991: 11).

The importance of culture for the translator of persuasive advertisements, as well as the role that culture plays in the translating of texts from one culture into another. The aim of translation as the transference of certain intellectual and aesthetic values from one language to another. This transfer is not performed directly and is not without its difficulties. When a translator has to translate a text from one culture into another a number of problems can arise. Signs in one culture might not exist in the target culture or could generate different meanings. Problems such as cultural gaps can arise. The translator must be aware of the cultural factors when dealing with an advertisement because it is always created in the context of a specific culture.

The term culture refers to the mental and intellectual space in a human’s mind. The individual’s thoughts and inner being are formed at a very early stage within this space. The culture to which s/he is exposed would then help create her/his patterns of thought; the way s/he sees and experiences the world; the way s/he interacts with other people from the same or other cultures and the way s/he forms relationships with other people, and the way s/he discovers aspects of her/his personality and surroundings. These actions take place by using language.

People and advertisements communicating within the same culture share a common pool of experience, frames of reference and cultural perspectives. But if an advertisement was created in one culture and is then translated into another culture and language, cultural gaps and barriers will arise. The reason for this is that people in one culture tend to interpret and judge people from other cultures and their behaviour through their own framework of cultural norms. Communication with someone who speaks a different language, subscribes to different values and belief structures and maintains a different outlook on life, may lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication, which in turn will lead to an undesired reaction and behaviour by the receiver or consumer in the case of advertisements. Understanding the culture of the target receivers or consumers of a persuasive advertisement is not only important for the advertiser, but also for the translator, who has to identify cultural markers in one language (source) and transfer these markers to a target language and thus receivers.

The cultural identity of a specific group or society is an image referring to external as well as internal characteristics of that group. However, a culture must be located in time and space to "anchor" it in terms of its past, future and place and to indicate or compare changes that took place within that culture. Every culture has its own set of sign systems. As shown and discussed, Turkish Republic is a mixture of many cultures. In order to understand the relationship between national symbols and ideology in Turkish Republic, one must look at the different shifts of power in the history of the country. By the time managing communication means managing perception the approach of the project will be concentrating on human, our country and our Turkish public perceptions. The project is obviously intended for the attention of communicators, advertisers, public relations experts, visual communication designers and people whom would like to be informed about the strategy of public relations.

İdil Beydoğan
Visual Communication Design
MFA Project Proposal

Bibliography :
- Cialdini, Robert. 1984. Influence: The New Psychology of Modern Persuasion. New York: Quill Publishing.
- Meyers-Levy, J., Malaviya, P. (1999). Consumers' Processing of Persuasive Advertisements: An Integrative Framework of Persuasion Theories. Journal of Marketing Special Issues, 63, 45-60

· Pride, W.M., Ferell, O.C., Mackenzie, H.F., Snow, K. (1998) Marketing. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company

· Kumar, Anand. (November 2000) Interference Effects of Contextual Cues in Adverisements on Memory for Ad Content. Journal of Consumer

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