There are a lot of misconceptions out there. As a communications and marketing professional, I’ll admit. Every city, town, village, nation and continent has its own prevailing sentiments. However, with the advent of advanced communications like radio and television, a one-way dialogue was created that allowed ideas from one town to permeate the ideas of another village. Usually, the village producing the content/programming often had the luxury of setting the new standard according to its values and systems.
Fast forward to today, with social media, smartphones and Pokemon Go! More and more you will hear the voices of populations and groups around the world decrying perceptions. Not all perceptions are bad, just the false ones. Now governments and social justice groups around the world are realizing just how bad those perceptions can be. Perceptions about regions, groups and populations often shape who we will and will not do business with and where we choose to visit or vacation. In essence, perception adds up to dollars and cents. What might have just been someone’s negative opinion about a region in southeast Asia becomes a prevailing sentiment through consistent negative communications/media which eventually hampers trade and economic growth.
Therefore, a high premium lies on whether those perceptions can be changed. And that is where marketing, branding and advanced communications really come into play. More and more governments and groups are seeing how important it is to tell a truer narrative about their cultures, locales and norms than what has been presented and they are turning to the communications profession to change that story to one that is more authentically representative.
Marketing to change perception is crucial in so many ways. It may have a social impact, like helping women in West Africa to abandon skin bleaching or an economic one, by helping businesses in Pakistan communicate they are a viable global trade destination. Marketing to change perception is a tactic that US pharmaceutical, agriculture and energy industries among others have used to augment the conversation around their products and services.