Recommendation for Initializing First Contact with Journalists
Regardless of GDPR, we recommend press offices consider the following 3 steps for creating trusting and professional cooperation with journalists:
1. “I do!“ – Collect for Consent
Press offices should always ask for consent from media representatives before starting a conversation – even without GDPR. By not adding journalists to mailings lists who have not given explicit consent, teams have the opportunity to win on two fronts:
- Reach a mailbox instead of a spam folder: Journalists who approve being added to a press mailing list will receive relevant updates within their mailbox, as the sender is now approved. As a result, the opportunity of having a press release picked up by the media increases considerably. On the contrary, unwanted content can easily be transferred to the spam folder and may lead to the “blacklisting” of all future company mail and the company domain.
- Synergize: If a journalist appreciates your efforts at collaboration and your professional approach, you will also be more likely to be asked to share your expertise and opinion in an interview. These personal contacts can help you circulate article ideas outside of your general press release updates.
Should a media representative reject your offer to add them to your mailing list, this should be taken as an important sign. Rather than jeopardizing the integrity of your communications, you can now concentrate efforts on those journalists who are interested in receiving your messages.
2. Transparency and Data Security
Data security and transparency should be your top priority. When adding journalists to your press mailing lists, don’t forget to inform them of what data you will collect, and what kind of information they will be receiving from you. Offer an easy way to withdraw this authorization at any time. Note: if you wish to delete personal information in a GDPR-complaint manner, it is no longer sufficient to simply delete the contact from your press mailing list. You will also need to delete any data on the relevant individual from your databases.
Always use encryption to save your journalists’ contact details and make sure that this data will not be circulated to third parties without the individual’s permission.
3. Pay Special Attention When It Comes to Choosing Vendors
Asking every press representative for consent before adding them to a mailing list requires considerable time and can be exhausting – especially when taking into account that mailing lists need to be updated regularly.
If you lack the time and resources to maintain current distribution lists, as an alternative, you can enlist the help of one of the many service providers who provide mailing lists. But, choose wisely. Should you decide to engage a service company to do contact research on your behalf, play it safe when it comes to data protection. The quality of any distribution list is not just constituted by the number of contacts and their “relevance”, quality is also determined by the level of professionalism used in aggregating and processing these contacts.
Take the time to examine how your provider gathers journalist consent and be informed on whether data is updated regularly or not. Be careful if a mailing list service is completely free or the price seems “too good to be true” – this could indicate a lapse in certain data processing processes and bring you back to square one.