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A corporate image is the perception that the general public holds about a particular business. Many companies invest a great deal of time and other resources in an effort to influence the opinion that consumers hold about the products offered by the business, as well as the business itself. This process of cultivating positive public relations extends to not only interaction with consumers, but also ongoing interaction with the media, labor unions, industrial associations, and other entities that have a direct and indirect impact on public opinion.
One of the most basic ways of shaping a corporate image is establishing and maintaining positive relationships with the general public. This effort usually begins by offering products that successfully meet the needs of customers, thus generating goodwill. As consumers come to know and trust the product lines offered by the business, they begin to share their opinions with others. This positive word of mouth helps to introduce other consumers to the products offered by the business, and makes it easier to establish a favorable perception in the minds of more people.
Along with offering products that meet customer expectations, many companies cultivate a positive corporate image by becoming involved with the communities where their goods and services are sold. This can involve anything from sponsoring a local sporting event to supporting some type of local charity. By choosing to be a part of the community, the business establishes a perception among consumers that the company is interested in the quality of life of everyone in the community, and not just attempting to turn a profit.
Promoting the right kind of corporate image also involves working with the media. Journalists in both print and electronic media hold a great deal of influence with the general public. This means that businesses that want to be perceived in a positive light by consumers will want to cooperate with media professionals. Doing so helps to ensure that when new product lines are launched, or significant events happen in the life of the company, the media is much more likely to convey the news to consumers.
Businesses of all sizes will want to carefully create a corporate image that inspires confidence and trust in consumers. In the event that some event occurs to negatively impact that trust, taking steps to effectively deal with the situation and find ways to restore the confidence of the general public is essential if the company is to survive. For this reason, a number of companies engage the services of public relations professionals who are equipped to manage just about any situation that may arise.