• Madeleine Bonser

Spotlight on Florence Williams

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

At Spotlight, we got the opportunity to chat with Florence Williams, director of The Perception Agency, a London based sports marketing agency. She chatted to us about the importance of women role models in sport, why she created the business and how she has adapted her business during COVID.

Business background

Florence studied as a Graphic Designer at Loughborough University whilst playing rugby for Loughborough Lightning. She moved to London to play for Wasps & work in advertising in the City with global media agency Mindshare. Her passion to combine marketing skills & sports experience led her to leave her job and start her own agency specialising in the Marketing of Women’s sport.

How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

In the shower! I knew I had the skills as a designer & big ideas but I had to solidify enough initial clients to allow me to build the business full time. I wanted to work for a sports marketing agency but my real opportunity was to change the game in women’s sport, so I took the leap to do it.

I believe the “perception” of women’s sport is the root of almost all of the inequality & barriers surrounding us. Until the general public perception of women’s sport is changed & thought of in a more positive light then the floodgates cannot truly open. Whether it be in participation, funding, media interest, fan bases; if being a female was more visible and admirable the opportunity to grow these sectors cannot happen.

What needs to change for women in the sporting industries?

More females in board-level roles. Equal opportunity policies put in as minimum standards. Increase marketing budget for women’s sport. Big brand partnerships. We only seem to celebrate women who are world leaders, we need to celebrate a large portion of successful women. More mainstream media/broadcasting rights. Quality marketing of women’s sport.

What has been your biggest challenge or setback during your career?

Being tired of working so hard to create quality outcomes, for a member of the general public to say “get back in the kitchen love”. Daily ignorance. It can sometimes feel like you’re fighting a beast that’s ingrained in society.

I think of every girl growing up wanting the opportunity to be whoever they want to be and if I can be part of making that the norm by developing the landscape and calling out the Bull**** then I’ll do it every day.

Passion, drive and determination

School sport is so important in getting girls excited about the sport, competitive in an equal environment, but also to educate young boys that girls can be excellent athletes & coaches too. If you can change a child’s impression towards females in a sporting context at a young age they are likely to maintain this opinion growing up.

Seeing the support of my peers, empowering many other people like myself to stand up for what they believe in and making palpable differences in women’s sport. There has been no better time to be involved in women's sport & I’m gonna ride that wave.

Biggest life lessons and advice

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is persistence. It won’t happen the first time, or the second or the third. But what you’ll learn along the way will make it happen in the best way when it does come together. To anyone just starting their career my top three tips are:

  • Don’t be afraid to dream.

  • Plan, Plan and plan.

  • Talk to everyone about everything.

To anyone starting a business my biggest advice would be asking for help, seek guidance on the steps you need to take to get to where you want, then tick off those steps. Always think about the future, what’s next and how am I going to keep momentum. Be prepared to love what you do without always having a consistent paycheck.

Advice for leadership roles

If you can’t set the minimum standards for those you are leading then don’t lead. Don’t be afraid of risk, but equally have the ability to bounce back from failure. Be the point of difference that takes your projects from good to great. Pay attention to the individuals around you, facilitate their best skills & encourage progress in areas of weakness. Stay organised. Be open to criticism. Buy the coffee. Create a system that everyone can work too if you’re all on different pages the story isn’t going to make sense.

To what do you attribute your success?

My parents brought me up to have the belief that I can do whatever I want if I work hard enough, treat people well & have the ambition. Apparently, a common catchphrase of mine growing up was “I’ll do it myself”, having been trying to do it myself ever since. My favourite part of my job is delivering work & ideas that my clients get excited about. Seeing the genuine change in people’s lives you’ve worked for.

The future of The Perception Agency

Be part of game-changing projects for women’s sport, speaking to big hitters commercially to grow opportunities & deliver the outcomes. I’m working with some global brands about how they can better educate themselves on producing content that promotes women’s sport & makes them leaders in this category. Specifically getting more women’s rugby on TV.

Everything happens for a reason. You can create your own destiny when you work for it. You won’t fulfil your potential being comfortable, so get used to it & learn to embrace new or challenging situations. Jump in the deep end then learn to swim.

Business during COVID-19

To anyone struggling remember to reach out for informal chats. People are missing social interaction and far more willing to set up Zoom calls about potential ideas now that the need to meet physically is reduced.

Schedule calls in ahead of time to ensure you’re still getting “face to face” chats around remote working. Plan your day ahead the night before, create your checklist in an achievable way.

I have taken the opportunity in the changing landscape and reframed the conversations from “uncertainty” to opportunity for change & growth. Glass half full.

If you enjoyed this blog find more just like it here. Check out The Perception Agency’s website, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

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