Disclaimer: This blog post is not legal advice to use to comply with the EU's GDPR. It just provides some useful information but you should seek legal counsel to ensure you comply with the GDPR.
The GDPR or EU's new general data protection regulation is coming into effect on 25 May.
Lots of companies and individuals have been scared of it over the last year since it was announced.
Instead, people should be excited because the GDPR is fair towards how people really want to be communicated with, by whom, about what and how often.
GDPR is full on inbound.
It states that companies must be transparent and fair with how they collect, process and use personal data. Though it’s a European law, it affects any marketer that gathers data on a global basis.
This basically means that people need to first give you consent that you can collect and use their data to communicate with them and only for specific reasons.
And that's exactly inbound because inbound pulls people into your business where they willingly share their information with you in exchange for content value vs. outbound where you get lists of contacts who've never heard of you before or have never been attracted to your content (nor agreed to receive it) and blast them emails out. That's now illegal!
In fact, under the GDPR people can now request for their data to be deleted from wherever you are storing their information as contacts.
The GDPR basically gives consumers control of their data.
And for PR, consumers also mean journalists and influencers.
You can no longer assume that someone wants to be contacted even if they fill out a form on your website. They need to give you free consent that they are okay with you emailing. This means, on those form submissions, you need to gather lawful basis which would typically be consent (with notice) or legitimate interest.
What GDPR means to PR
This completely turns around the way most PR people operate. You can no longer mass email your journalists or influencer database because many of them may not want to hear from you nor can you disclose the list of media people you've used for a campaign to your client without the journalists' consent because in both cases you'd be breaching the law.
Right now, media lists fall into the bracket of ‘legitimate interests’ where processing journalists’ personal data is central to what a PR agency or an in-house PR team does in order to 'serve them with relevant information' (read more here). This means you can still continue emailing your media contacts, however, I firmly believe you should have a way to confirm that journalists and influencers intentionally opt-in to hearing from you because otherwise you might find yourself in a situation where someone complains especially if you are sending information that could be classified as marketing (e.g. product-led campaigns) or completely irrelevant information to their interests.
How Inbound PR helps
This is where the whole concept of Inbound PR comes in.
The idea is that you define your perfect media personas - the journalists and influencers that are ideal for you or your client - and their habits, problems, challenges, preferences. After that, you define their decision-making process or the way they would come about finding you as the solution to their problem or story that they are working on. Knowing these, you can now create a content plan and start publishing content, gathering it on a newsroom specifically designed for your media persona where these people can on their own opt-in to receive updates, reports, and other types of information and have an easy way to reach out to you once they've done their research and are ready.
This is what we call pulling people in - they come to you. And when they reach out to you on their own (because you've provided contact details specifically for them on your newsroom) then you are not going against the GDPR.
Inbound PR evolves around relationships. Creating such an experience for your media people also means building relationships for the long-run because you are saving them time through content already provided on your newsroom and you are not (illegally) spamming them with things they may not want to see. They can choose. And when they are ready, they will come to you.
Regardless of what approach you choose, here are some GDPR tips to consider:
- Review your media database and clean out contacts.
- Create a permission campaign to get journalists' and influencers' consent if you want to be on the super safe side, especially with regards to historic data.
- Add your relevant media contacts into the free HubSpot CRM where you can consolidate, manage and sort the data in one place if you don't have another system.
- Make sure you have a policy and a data controller to advise you.
- Password protect documents and online access to systems like your CRM.
- Train your entire team how to handle data (CIPR members can use this great resources).
There's a ton more in this video that I recommend watching:
You can find lots of information on the GDPR on the European Commission page.
Are you ready for the GDPR?