Alpha Public Relations | Back to the future: the case for media relations in the age of GDPR
This article makes the case for media relations as a marketing tool when the ability of companies to send out mass emails is curtailed by GDPR in May 2018.
GDPR, media relations, public relations, email marketing, Alpha Public Relations, Stuart Anderson
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Back to the future: the case for media relations in the age of GDPR

You are probably sick to the back teeth of reading about GDPR – the General Data Protection Regulation that comes into force on 25 May this year – but please bear with me for a moment.

GDPR will, among other things, prevent companies sending marketing emails to the “personal” addresses of people who have not demonstrably signed up to receive them. I have spoken to a real-life lawyer and confirmed that the definition of “personal” will include the work email addresses of named individuals.

This will even be the case where those addresses are monitored by colleagues and/or advertised on a company website and are not, therefore, what common sense might define as “private”. The important thing, I am told, is that an individual can be identified from the address, meaning that legally it will constitute personal data and you will need a legitimate reason to store it, process it or send emails to it.

As a result of this, many companies are reassessing their email marketing programmes. The days of building a mailing list by trawling the internet and harvesting business cards at conferences appear to be at an end.

Email newsletters will remain important for keeping in touch with actual customers and business partners, as well as with a wider circle who have a genuine interest in your views or products. However, their role as a mass marketing tool is almost definitely over.


Stop worrying about “GD” and do some PR

Fortunately, there is – and has for decades been – another, much better way of communicating your expertise and value to the widest possible relevant audience: media relations. Achieving a substantial favourable mention in the press is much harder than sending out a marketing email but it is worth all the more because of that, and its reach is potentially far greater.

Furthermore, when it comes to “content marketing” via social media, what is better than to be able to link to coverage on the website of a respected publication? You should still host – and link to – your own articles on your website, of course, but, in terms of “social proof”, coverage in the news media surely rules the roost, at least for business-to-business communications.

Media coverage both reinforces your status with existing contacts and potentially gets your message out to a much wider group of potential customers. It’s great when somebody says “I liked your newsletter” but it is even better when they say, “I liked what you said in the paper.”

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Stuart Anderson