Holiday Edition: Perception & Reality

If you perceive it's true, it is.Photo courtesy of

If you perceive it’s true, it is (to you).
Photo courtesy of

Perception defines reality, not the other way around. Think about it. A dozen people experience the same event, and you get a dozen descriptions of what happened, why and what it means. People reflect their own experiences and beliefs.

Does Absolute Truth even exist? Plato suggested it did, but men could never know it directly. Hence his allegory of the cave.

Perception is pre-eminent with things large and small, including the economy — a timely subject during the holidays. When optimism is high, consumers spend more, which drives companies to invest more and hire more employees, which gives consumers more money to buy more things.

When consumers turn pessimistic, the reverse is true. The economy sputters, stalls and finally slips into reverse.

Reading daily headlines or listening to TV news is depressing. Take it at face value, and you’ll believe the economy — and much else in the world — is in a tailspin. Occasionally glimmers of hope shine through the gloom, but they are quickly extinguished. Journalists by nature are doomsayers. Bad news is news; good news isn’t.

But ignore the headlines and talking heads, and look around. You see a different picture.

Recently, five giggling girls, maybe 12 years old, were in line at a popular coffee shop, ordering chai lattes and pomegranate ice blendeds and nonchalantly pulling $10 and $20 bills from their pockets to pay for them. Not far away, consumers were cruising a sprawling underground garage at a shopping mall for half an hour or more hoping to snag a scarce parking space.

No shortage of consumer optimism here.

Even near the bottom of the economic ladder, there were interesting signs. Like the homeless man standing in the median strip on Wilshire Blvd in West Los Angeles, talking on his cell phone. Or his counterpart beside a freeway off-ramp in Hollywood with a forthright message on his cardboard sign, “Why Lie? I Just Want a Drink.”

What’s this have to do with Crisis & Reputation Management? Well we are, after all, in the perception business. And it’s the clash of different perceptions that keeps us busy.

A timely reminder: If you perceive your holidays are happy, they will be. Cheers.


“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.


2 thoughts on “Holiday Edition: Perception & Reality

  1. People are creatures of the opinions around them. In a jury trial when I have the budget, we conduct jury focus groups. We state the case to the pretend jurors and then have them fill out questionnaires with their opinions. Then let them each hear the others express an opinion without debating the topic. Then another round of questionnaires. The changes from hearing others are marked. That’s why it’s important to get your desired perception out there in front of people.

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