Knowing who can be addressed with which topics is essential for press and media work. Because successful communication is based on knowing “your” editors or bloggers and influencers and know which topics they are interested in – but above all, which ones are not. This makes these contact data the central capita
l of a PR agency or press department. Nevertheless, many PR professionals do not actually “own” this valuable data. Instead, they rely on database providers that only allow limited “use” of contact information.
Tens of thousands of qualified editorial contacts at all times in the access: this sounds tempting at first. This suggests simplicity, flexibility and independence. You can quickly overlook the fine print. However, this means that all this data may only be “used”. And this is not arbitrary: even after an export, only one-time use is permitted. There is little left of independence. There is no mention of control at all. Because whether the contact details are maintained or changed by the rental company in the background, you usually don’t get to know.
Restricted use of contact details
It gets even more complicated with bloggers and other influencers: “When sending emails via the shipping function in (..) or the customer’s own e-mail systems must obtain the corresponding consents of the recipients for the sending of press material by the customer in advance, the e-mail addresses are not included in the data export. address provider. Of course, such GTC provisions are due to the new GDPR and are therefore comprehensible. But what if the consent of a contact has been obtained, but for some reason the “distributor” deletes it from the database? Does this mean, strictly speaking, that, despite the consent of the contact, one is no longer allowed to communicate with it because it was previously included in the database? And what does it look like when you have personally contacted the blogger: Does this weigh more heavily than the terms and conditions?
Class goes before mass
One should ask oneself, in principle, whether it makes sense at all to hand over control of the contact details to a third party. It is true that communication with press representatives and other multipliers falls within the scope of the “legitimate interest” of the GDPR. In the event of an emergency, the obligation to prove what one has communicated with a particular person in the “legitimate interest” remains with the data user. But what if the record was changed or deleted without his knowledge? Also, the mass of available data, which one has constant access, is not necessarily advantageous. Since the GDPR came into force, the more “class before mass” applies: Sending press information to distributors with hundreds or thousands of addressees quickly increases the risk of suspected spam. On the other hand, the more specific press distributors are targeted at specific content, the better to document that one is acting in the “legitimate interest”.
For example, a distributor with the title “IT topics” is absolutely nonsensical. Because the IT trade press and the IT editorial offices in other media have very different special areas. Some are interested in “IT security”, others are interested in “IT system houses and distributors” and others in “data center topics” or “ERP software”. Of course, there is one or the other overarching theme. In this case, however, the PR agency or press department should be able to ‘mix’ two or more distributors in order to maintain the specific interests of the target groups.
Better to work with your own contact details
It is therefore not only because of the documentation obligations that it makes sense to work with your own contact details in principle. Because it is useful to be able to transparently understand what you have communicated with whom and when – at the latest when your own department or agency comprises more than one employee. Admittedly, the setup of qualified press distributors is complex. But on the one hand, there are definitely address publishers that sell distributors and not just lend. On the other hand, a self-maintained database also reflects the actual network of relationships of one’s own network. And you have “your” data under control. Because changes are not made by any anonymous employee in a call center who has no relationship with the respective editor or medium, but only by their own people.