Recently, my boss said to me that people's perception is our reality. I was taken aback pondering the implications of that statement and how the words were and are so far reaching. Currently, Herman Cain is in serious sewage over his perception as a sexual harassment specialist and whether or not it's true makes little difference in the end. I suspect his perception will eventually end his bid for the republican nomination for president. Again, the people's perception is his reality however, misconstrued or not perception will be his undoing.
Sometimes you can change people's perception and change your reality. However, that's a tough row to hoe and there will be many who will never change their mind. Many celebrities' have had this problem probably more than most but, some have changed their perception in the world eye Rob Lowe, Bill Clinton, and Robert Downey Jr to name a few notables.
The best way to go is to never let yourself get into a place where you and your reputation can be sullied. Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure still works in my perception