It only takes about seven seconds for a stranger to form a first impression of you. Especially in our modern world, the image we project of ourselves is becoming even more crucial since the increasing openness and inter-connectedness of the world makes it much easier for people to do ‘research’ on who you are. An image is paramount to all levels of society from the individual, to the corporate, to the national. Therefore, image does play a pivotal role in our lives in both the public and private domains. Nowadays, it is rare to find someone who does not have a Facebook profile or a Twitter account.
Social networking has become a norm in our world today, with so many people putting up their personal lives on the Internet for anyone to see. What we choose to put on the Internet inevitably forms an image of ourselves that we present to others. This image will be able to make or break you regardless of whether you are in the public spotlight. Almost every celebrity has publicists that help him or her manage their public persona. It is often with their reputations that celebrities are able to land the most well paid jobs.
Such employers view the celebrity’s good reputation as one that will be able to most effectively sell a product or a movie. Additionally, the way in which a celebrity manages his or her image when hit with a crisis affects his or her future employment prospects. For example, when Kate Moss was hit the scandal of her being photographed snorting cocaine, she did not do anything that would help fan the flame of the scandal. Alternatively, she continued working hard and producing the beautiful shots that her employers wanted. The scandal did not kill her career, as many would have expected.
Moss’ career received a boost instead where she signed lucrative contract with Calvin Klein that effectively doubled her income. Additionally, an increasing number of companies are making use of social networking sites to gather background information on prospective employees. Countless people have lost out on amazing job opportunities because they posted pictures of them drunk on their Facebook profiles. This then proves that the image that portray of ourselves has a great impact on our lives in that it can help determine your success or failure in your chosen profession.
In the corporate world, many businesses are also starting to realize the importance of the image of the company. Image consultants are being paid thousands of dollars to spruce up a company’s profile, where the company hopes that the better the image it presents the more successful it will become. Marketers and advertisers are also making use of prominent public personalities to help sell their products by making them more attractive to the masses. Given a small business, without a company website can be destroyed as a result of any acerbic comment on the Internet.
Potential clients upon doing their research and discovering a bad review of the company’s services will decide to patronize the services of another company instead. The significance of a good public profile is seen clearly in the aforementioned example, whereby a company can falter due to the lack of an image that the fails to showcase to the public. Thus, a positive image presented to the masses can prove to be the deciding factor of whether a company succeeds or fails in the event of a public relations problem, proving that image is indeed everything in the corporate world.
On a wider scale, image is also critical to the many nations in the world. Small countries very often want to show the world that it is to be underestimated, while developing countries want to show the world that it is growing into its own and is just as capable. The most explicit examples of this are in the countries that vie to host the Olympic Games. Winning the coveted role of hosting the Olympics is often a great source of national pride for a country whereby it can show the world what it is capable of.
The prestige that comes with hosting the Olympics is also immensely substantial thus accounting for the many countries wanting to host the Olympics. Even the first Youth Olympic Games was not spared from the competition between countries to host it. Singapore ultimately won this honour and it was widely celebrated by the government and its people. Almost all of Singapore’s youth were involved in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in one way or another.
All were happy to serve their country in any way they could in this grand and prestigious occasion. Another apt example is when China hosted the 2008 Beijing Olympics. China poured billions of dollars into the organization of the Games and spared no expense in ensuring that the Beijing was ready to receive athletes from all around the world. The pride that the Chinese had in the fact that China was hosting the 2008 Olympics was evident in the hundreds of hours of dedicated service that the Chinese selflessly contributed.
Thus, image is of great significance on a national level where countries are able to display what it is made of and can be a source of great national pride. On the other may argue that image is nothing without substance to back it up. Take the example of a customer going to a company for a particular service due to an initial good impression of the company. However, if the company fails to measure up to the image it presents of itself, the customer will be hugely disappointed and will not patronize the services of that company again and might even influence others into avoiding that company.
Although one should concede that “well done is better than well said” as spoken by Benjamin Franklin, the first impression is ultimately one that is more powerful where a good impression often results in good outcomes. Particularly in our modern world where people move so fast that they only have time for first impressions and where the image one presents is one of the most reliable ways to judge a persons character in such a short time.
We have seen in the paragraphs above that image does play a pivotal role in our individual lives, in the corporate world, and on the national level. Despite the fact that actions do speak louder than words and that substance is more important than the image, it cannot be denied that the first impression is often a strong and lasting one. Image is hence essentially everything in our modern world where people are more often than not caught up in flash and superficiality.
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