GDPR And Your Press List: How To Manage Your PR Dispatch Contacts


GDPR is the word (acronym?) on everyone’s lips, coming into force this week after what feels like years of anticipation. And it's not just customer data that's affected - while media outlets’ details are excluded from GDPR restrictions, personal data is when it all starts to get a bit murky. It all comes down to whether the data is deemed publicly available. For example.. = GDPR compliant = personal data

Complicated, isn’t it? It can be a minefield to navigate, but here are some key points to consider when compiling your database of press contacts.

Nobody likes spam

The key here is to use common sense PR ethics and avoid unsolicited marketing. Make sure you’re using editors’ data in the way it was intended - to pitch products to their features, and nothing else. You shouldn’t be adding them to your marketing list or trying to sell your products to them - these are editor’s work emails and should be treated as such. And if a journalist asks to be unsubscribed from a list, make sure you follow through by deleting them from your list entirely and ceasing to contact them - doing so when they’ve asked you not to could land you in very hot water with GDPR watchdogs.

Safely stored

It’s imperative that all of the data you collect is processed and stored as securely as possible. Password protect any lists you may keep and train your staff on how to correctly handle data. As soon as you download data or create your own internal lists, you accept responsibility and need to follow the correct protocols surrounding data protection.

Do you need to hold this data?

Should you be asked, you need to be able to explain why you collect and retain every single piece of data. For example, if you’re a brand owner that’s contacting editors to be featured, your ‘explanation’ is that you retain that data for PR purposes.

It’s also important that you don’t retain data for longer than necessary. Having an Excel sheet with over 500 emails on it that you never review doesn’t do you any favours in terms of complying with GDPR. If you have no purpose for retaining it, or if it’s out-of-date data, it must be deleted. 

Keep data to yourself

While it’s not common for PR agencies to share their media distribution lists with you, it’s now their legal obligation not to pass on information about journalists and editors to other parties, not even their customers, unless they have the editor’s written consent. 

And don’t worry, we practice what we preach. All information we share with you is GDPR compliant. 

Ready for more PR? We’re here to give you the contacts, community, advice & support you need to get the coverage you deserve. You can find out more about our memberships here.