There’s been a lot of talk about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in marketing press, but less so in PR press - even though there’s room for it to affect all of us in this industry. If you don’t know what the GDPR is, then you should.
The EU’s GDPR, to help organisations understand new legal frameworks, will come into full effect in May 2018 for both B2B and B2C communications.
From a series of new rules which will govern marketing data, the most pressing one for the industry is the need for ‘explicit consent’ from the recipient of a marketing email as well as the consent to be verifiable; in other words, having records showing the origin of the data.
The fine is hefty. Seriously hefty. It’s four per cent of global revenue or €20 million, whichever is bigger. Ouch.
Unfortunately, some PRs are still guilty of sending out very sales-y press releases / e-alerts / emails which could be deemed as marketing content. For example, if you send out mail-merges of hundreds of pitch emails to try and secure coverage, then you may hit a pissed-off journalist who will deem your email as unsolicited marketing content. If they’re really pissed-off, they might flag this under the new regulations. If you can’t then prove you have consent to contact this person, you’ll be in a tricky situation. If you’re asked for a copy of the data and you don’t have it, then we’re slipping further out of the grey area and more into the red.
Essentially, we’re not completely sure what it means for us as PRs yet, but we had better start researching and preparing ourselves for the worst.
Firstly (and this should be something all PRs are doing anyway), make sure you are providing journalists with good content that is relevant to them. Every PR event with journalist speakers and every PR / journalist forum, and I mean every single one, has a takeaway of the same message: do your research and stop pitching blindly with things that are irrelevant.
Yes, we are time pressed, but so are journalists- probably more so. Yes, sometimes it’s not always our own personal faults, but we should be finding time to look over our media lists and making sure we are targeting the right people with the right story. It’s in our interests, our clients’ interests and the journalist’s interests. Start prepping now and take that extra time to find those people that are relevant to your sectors, clients and pitch topics. You also need to make sure your content is quality content, and not a sales pitch. If someone requests that you destroy their data and never contact them again, then you must oblige under the new regulations- that’s a contact gone for good.
Secondly, work on building relationships with your key contacts. If you genuinely have something to offer them then there’s no reason why the journalist wouldn’t want to meet up and build a relationship with you. So, get networking (without taking a sales pitch along with you).
Thirdly, and finally, start logging your consent as if you were a marketing agency. Although this is a huge grey area, there’s no harm in beginning to prepare yourself and getting one step ahead.Take a read of PR Week's story too discussing GDPR, which inspired us to blog about the regulation.