At the end of 2015, H&M released an advertising campaign signalling the growing acceptance toward the traditional headscarf in mainstream fashion. The advertisement, which featured a model wearing her hijab, received an overwhelmingly positive response on social media sites, boosting the growing trend in advertising that encourages the representation of models from various cultures.

At its core, PR revolves around a universal truth: people act based upon their perception of facts. H&M understood that there was a whole section of its audience that was being underrepresented in the fashion industry, and by influencing people’s perceptions, they, like many PR professionals, hoped to initiate a sequence of behaviours that would lead to the achievement of objectives. In this case, it was the acceptance of other cultures in an industry which relies heavily on appearance and clothing. When opinions are changed or created through persuasion, the primary objective of PR is accomplished.

H&M advertising campaign featuring a model wearing a hijab.

H&M advertising campaign featuring a model wearing a hijab.

This may be a consumer example, but the lessons learnt here can also be applied to B2B marketing and PR, and also how our actions towards our clients can be impacted by our own perception of the facts.

Client – agency relationships: Perception vs. the facts

The client-agency relationship is a great example of perception vs. fact and there still seems to be a significant gap between what clients and agencies consider to be the most important factor. A PRCA survey suggested agencies and clients differ widely on the key issues that matter most in their relationships. Only 19% of agencies thought honesty and openness were the most important factors, but 39% of clients thought it was the vital ingredient. There is also a debate surrounding the importance of personal relationships, yet despite the well known adage that ‘people buy from people’ only 15% of clients claimed that personal chemistry is the most important factor to them.

In a recent interview with Marketing Week, Sir Martin Sorrell commented that all relationships go through times of stress and strain but this hasn’t prevented “trillions of dollars being spent through agencies.” Here at The Scott Partnership building close, long-term relationships with our clients goes without saying. What really makes a difference is focusing on what matters to them; getting results! Otherwise, we risk wasting skills, budget and time on work that does not have the desired impact.

Our new year’s resolution

While some of us may have abandoned our new year’s resolutions for 2016, our promise this year is to help our clients be successful by building tailored relationships, based on what is important to them, and using integrated sales and marketing strategies that help them achieve their goals. Rather than repeating our actions based on tradition or habit, it is our job to listen to our clients, build relationships which last for years and, like H&M, present something different that reflects who they are as a company, and where they are going.

Although it is our job to change minds and influence views, changing our own perception on what clients want, and changing our actions as appropriate, could lead to a better relationship and better results.

If you want an agency that listens to your views on sales and marketing programmes, give us a call on +44 (0) 1477 539 539 or email on [email protected].

By Madison Dunn, Trainee Junior Account Executive