In this episode of Countdown to GDPR, Jonathan Armstrong and myself are interviewed by Laura Petrolino, the Chief Client Officer at Arment Dietrich, Inc. on the applicability of GDPR to the professional communications industry. It was a fascinating way to discuss some of the key points of GDPR in the context of one industry/profession.

Some of the topics we discussed are:

  • What are the top three areas where most businesses’ data protocols are currently not GDPR compliant?
  • Communicators deal with databases and email lists a lot. If they already have residents of the EU in their database, do they need to get them to re-opt-in, in order to be GDPR compliant?
  • Are communications agency owners liable if they are in charge of their client’s email lists or databases, and those databases aren’t GDPR compliant?
  • Article 5 says only data needed for the consented exchange is collected. Theoretically, to sign-up to download an eBook the only info really needed is an email address. Often in situations like this, we will collect additional demographic, interest, or industry information in order to create segment lists and further communicate (with content or offers specific to them). Is that no longer OK?
  • Along those same lines, if they sign-up to download an eBook and then a few months later we send them a blog post they might be interested or something else, is that against GDPR? How specific do we need to be upon sign-up about anything we might send them in the future?
  • Article 5 also says we can only keep the data for the amount of time needed. What type of timelines or guidelines should we use to know how long is too long to keep an email?
  • How would you respond to Americans who think the GDPR won’t affect them?
  • Anything else communicators should know?

For the communications specialist, you learn a lot about GDPR compliance and data privacy and protection. But the key takeaways should give you a lot to think about as far as how you use data as part of your communications strategy. They include:

  1. GDPR is an opportunity to make sure you, your organization, and/or your clients use data in a strategic and effective way.
  2. No tactic in absence of a strategy is effective. And more data isn’t necessarily better.
  3. GDPR compliance forces smart communications. It’s good for the industry and it’s good for your communications strategy.


To see Laura Petrolino’s blogs on GDPR for the communications professional check out her musing on SpinSucks:

GDPR Compliance: Everything Communicators Need to Know and

The Communicator’s GDPR Checklist and Resource Guide