12 Jul 2013 11:19

KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 (Bernama) -- Perception is the reality, the truth and what people believe based on what they experience, hear, see and think, and must be managed properly and scientifically to be beneficial, says Kishore Ravuri, Chief Exececutive Ofiicer (CEO) of Perception Management Sdn Bhd.

Stakeholders comprising persons, groups, organisations, members or systems can affect or be affected by an organisation's actions, and also influence the implementation of decisions either by supporting or opposing, he said.

They can be customers, trade unions, media, shareholders, governments or suppliers, and their perceptions can shape new business ideas or ruin them, while they can be a threat and also influence business decisions.

"A scientific approach in managing perception is what we do to help organisations find out the true perception surrounding them and one way to do it is by engaging with stakeholders personally and talk to them to see their views," said Kishore in an interview with Bernama.

Perception Management Sdn Bhd, the only consultant company in the country in perception management, says they prefer an outside-in approach rather than the traditional communication approaches with companies directing one-way key messages to stakeholders.

"We prefer to start with a perception audit, an in-depth qualitative study where we engage and speak to stakeholders of the organisation to find issues on perception.

"This is to ensure we understand the territory before we make any stakeholder engagement recommendations," said the CEO.

A stakeholder perception audit starts with a stakeholder mapping exercise with a purposive sampling of not more than 70 people.

The reason for the small sampling is based on the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule, which states that 20 per cent of something are responsible for 80 per cent of the results.

"The identified stakeholders will be directly engaged where the consultants will talk to them and engage with them in a meaningful way. Most of the time they are more open to share with us information and issues pertaining to an organisation or company.

"With direct engagement we are able to understand the issues better because it is qualitative in nature and so is rich with information, it gives insights on the true perception surrounding the organisation.

"We can also educate them by sharing information and influence their perception to a more favorable," added Ravuri.

Other benefits of direct engagement are: the cost is much cheaper because of the sampling size, less or no room for misinterpretation as it cuts down on intermediaries, more control of messages, and it can co-create ideas and solutions.

Organisations and businesses need to manage perception better by finding out true perception of stakeholders as an increase in profit and revenue alone does not mean the company is perceived positively.

A negative perception if not addressed properly in the long term will be detrimental and affect the sustainability and success of a company.