The EU's General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, will undoubtedly give marketers and the organisations they work for a headache. But there are opportunities too.
Professional services firms are likely to be particularly hard hit. Most firms produce newsletters, commentaries, blogs, seminar invites etc. in near industrial quantities. Spray and pray still seems to be the preferred approach.
I am not going to explain the ins and outs of the regulations - there are plenty of better qualified people out there who can do that. But I suspect the GDPR will change the backbone of professionals services firms comms.
It is hard to imagine any client giving express consent to receive badly targeted information.
So how to respond?
I believe there is a real opportunity for PRs, whether agency or in-house, to work much more closely with BD teams and drive good inbound marketing.
One response could be the creation of a firm's news room - something BP, Visa and others have already adopted.
Rather than allow a firm's partners to write whatever they want and push it out to clients, a news room would provide editorial rigour to the process. Is content well written? Is it relevant to clients or sectors? How best distributed? Could it be used elsewhere?
Creating content of real value is likely to be better received, to be acted upon, help firms stand out from peers, and add real value to clients .
GDPR is not a harbinger of doom nor is it some peripheral ‘technical’ piece of regulation that you can leave to the IT person to worry about. Yes, GDPR will change how marketers do their job and failing to adapt could land your organisation on the wrong end of a substantial fine. It is also true that large portions of the regulation cover processes and governance structures that the average marketer does not need to know. It is a mechanism for empowering people to take control of their data, hold those that misuse data to account, and a game-changer when it comes to transparency and security. Viewing GDPR as a vehicle for restoring trust and promoting innovation in marketing is the first step to getting to grips with its implications.