Image is everything, but it isn't the only thing.
"It's not enough to be liked by good men -- you must strive to be despised by bad men."
Confucius was a Sheriff and a Guru, but he didn't pander to people who didn't matter to him. These days, we are so obsessed with perception that we can forget the goal.
I some cases, like the Natalee Holloway disappearance that has Aruba's image at stake, perception can become reality.
In other cases, like the 1964 slayings of three civil-rights workers in Mississippi, there is justice to be served.
When outcomes are more nebulous, like the US Senate apologizing for decades of ducking anti-lynching laws, your pragmatic side can start to ask if you're just inviting additional complaint and scrutiny.
In some scenarios, you just ignore public opinion entirely. Some GOP senators are now questioning the value of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, strictly because it is becoming more a PR liability than a proven one.
In all four of the above, those crafting the key messages must take into account that their strategy -- be it capitulation, defiance, or perserverance -- hits only the approprate target.