Smith: firms must manage perceptions

Communications programs with vague objectives such as 'improving the corporate image' or increasing 'public awareness' are a waste of money.So said Barbara Smith, executive vice-president, international director, strategic management for Burson-Marsteller, Paris in an address to The Empire Club in Toronto...

Communications programs with vague objectives such as ‘improving the corporate image’ or increasing ‘public awareness’ are a waste of money.

So said Barbara Smith, executive vice-president, international director, strategic management for Burson-Marsteller, Paris in an address to The Empire Club in Toronto recently.

Smith, who spoke on the topic of perception management, said communications must be held up to the same clear and exacting standard as every business activity: it must create business results.

To do that, Smith said companies must manage perceptions.

‘Good communications can no longer be process-oriented,’ she said. ‘It must be outcome-oriented. What perception in what audience must change?’

Smith was the substitute speaker for Harold Burson, founder and chairman of the world’s largest public relations and public affairs firm.

Burson was ill. PS