Perception Management and Internet Marketing

in Internet Marketing,Perception Management,Public Relations

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept of Perception Management.  It’s an idea that interests me greatly.  In the context of our work as marketers, it’s a phrase that has become synonymous with persuasion.  The origin of the idea, however, can be traced back to some thoughtful United States military strategists.  The Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, provides us with the following definition of Perception Management:

“Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as 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.”

So how do these ideas relate to the world we live in as publishers, marketers, advertisers, etc?  Let’s break it down a little bit and examine a few key phrases.

1. “to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences”

2. “influence their emotions, motives and objective reasoning”

3. “resulting in foreign behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator’s objectives”

The first statement hints at the practice of content creation and promotion, more commonly known as “getting the word out”.  Obviously this can be accomplished a number of different ways on teh internetz, but you get the idea.  The second statement suggests that the goal of content promotion is ultimately to influence behavior.  Everyone and anyone that promotes a message has an agenda and in most cases, it is an attempt to influence an action of some sort.  The third point infers that the motivation to influence behavior through content promotion is to produce an end result favourable to the broader objectives of the initiator.  This is called conversion.  This is the stage at which the goal of the agenda has been realized.

As I researched further, I was amused to discover the many parallels that exist between marketing strategy and military strategy.  What they call disinformation, we call public relations.  What they call psy ops, we call advertising.  I have a lot more research to do before I can speak with any great authority on the issue, but there is no doubt in my mind that internet marketing, digital pr, etc. are just slightly differing forms of information warfare.  If you’re interested in researching further, I would recommend checking out this recently declassified document entitled “Regaining the High Ground:  The Challenges of Perception Management in National Strategy and Military Operations.”  We are at war, people.  ;)

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Social Media and Perception Management Challenges
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