GDPR- When PR Becomes Even More Valuable

Tina Clough is managing director of Poppy-PR. Tina has seen many changes to the face of PR over the last seven years- some making life more difficult to carry out effective media relations, and some which have transformed the industry for the better. 

Here she outlines why PR could see a boost amidst these latest changes, and why businesses will need to rely on the professionals moving forwards.

What is GDPR?

On the May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into play. Leaving the EU will not make any difference, and there are no exceptions to the rule!

As a small PR agency such changes for us could mean that the people we contact on a daily basis will need to consent to hearing from us- a scary prospect, given that we have a database of journalists who we connect with daily, and considering that we handle email marketing campaigns for clients.

In the interests of being organised, our team ventured over to Pride Park last week to attend a GDPR seminar, which would either scare us half to death or make things a little easier to digest- after all GDPR is a tad dull and makes for rather heavy reading!

Organised by Next Steps HR & Coaching, representatives from Bruce & Butler helped to quell some of the dread- and right there came a light bulb moment for our team- GDPR could actually mean that instructing a PR agency could be more important than ever.

What do the changes mean?

Under GDPR rules, one of the most important considerations for businesses seeking to carry out their own marketing is one of ‘consent’. Put simply, organisations must have clear and unambiguous consent from an individual that they want to be contacted. So adding an opt out box onto your email campaigns, simply will not cut the mustard- neither will sending emails to contacts harvested from days once passed, and don’t even think about adding that box of business cards gathered over the last ten years to a database, as you need consent before you can market any offers or services to these people.

Now, with those in charge of monitoring such breaches (The ICO) apparently looking to fine businesses up to €10m or two per cent of the annual, worldwide company turnover – whichever is higher, you could be forgiven for wondering how this will be policed, or if this will affect the smaller business at all.

The long and short of it, is that we cannot be sure, but around November and December this year, consumers will be made aware of their rights to privacy through a number of TV adverts, something which is sure to open a can of worms.

Here are some of the activities, which will require advice and careful planning prior to the GDPR rules changing in May 2018:

Direct marketing: If you send email newsletters, sales emails or invites to your events, you have just two years to get permission from your entire database or you won’t be able to contact them legally. The best way to do this is to start NOW!. Contact your full database and tell them that under GDPR, you will need their consent to contact them with marketing emails, and with details of your events. Tell them to email you back with ‘I consent’, and store this information in a database.

Buying lists for marketing: If you buy lists, prepare for the costs of these to go through the roofEven marketing to B2B consumers is protected under the new rules. It is important that if you buy lists that you check and check again that the person you are buying from has obtained ‘consent’ for these email addresses or telephone numbers to be contacted. I would suggest having a contract in place, which protects you as a buyer of such data.

PR: Sending information to journalists is no different to marketing to an employee of a business. Journalists will have to consent to be contacted by PR agencies in future. This means that businesses seeking to carry out their own PR by sending journalists their stories could face a fine. It is much better to use a PR agency, which has sought this ‘consent’.

Social media campaigns: Using social media is a much safer bet for businesses looking to send emails, and to market to its client base. When a connection or follower agrees to connect with you, this is giving that ‘consent’ to be contacted.

As a business serving companies of all sizes throughout the UK, we expect that the following changes will see an increase in businesses of all sizes using a PR agency. Agencies will have consent to contact the journalists for media coverage and will be in a position to make the most of social media channels for marketing purposes. Industry events and exhibitions are also going to prove invaluable, as will using the media to promote your business events moving forwards.

Here at Poppy-PR we have already encountered four local PR and marketing agencies which are still unaware of these changes. We hope to be ahead of the game – after all, in future we could even see a shift away from businesses using PR agencies which aren’t prepared.

To find out how Poppy-PR can help your business in the wake of GDPR changes, please contact us.