Safe to go into the water

DER…DUM… DER…DUM… DER…DUM… Just when you thought it was safe to E-market to all and sundry…

Keep your PECR up so you don’t find yourself in deep water!

That’s right. It’s Oscars time. A jaw-dropping extravaganza attended by everyone who’s anyone in the film world, celebrating with the best Champagne and a sumptuous 5-course meal. With one exception: you probably won’t find spam on the menu.

No siree, spam’s had its day – definitely at The Oscars, and especially when it comes to E-marketing and ensuring that you’re respecting people’s privacy rights.

Is there any finer way of annoying prospective customers and disregarding good data protection practice? We think not. If you really like spam that much, you’re probably better off going to a tinned food convention.

Ask any of the people involved with the ICO, GDPR, and PECR – The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations – and they’ll tend to agree.

Sure, many of us now recognise the importance of needing consent and a lawful basis to store customers’ personal data, but if you do E-marketing, then you don’t just need to be up to speed with GDPR, you need to know all about PECR’s extra rules too. They go hand-in-hand.

What is PECR?

PECR complement the Data Protection Act to help protect consumers’ privacy and retain specific privacy rights when it comes to electronic communications. It’s designed to restrict unsolicited marketing by phone, fax, email, text, or other electronic message.

So, here are some of the main things you need to know about PECR and how they relate to E-marketing:

  • E-marketing isn’t just confined to sending newsletters; it comprises all electronic marketing messages and also covers marketing calls, emails, texts and, faxes. (It even covers the use of cookies on your website.
  • There are different rules for different types of communication and depending on whether your business is B2B or B2C; the rules for marketing to individuals are generally stricter than forthose marketing to companies.
  • If you’re contacting individuals (including sole traders and partnerships), then PECR applies.
    • You’ll often need specific consent to send unsolicited direct marketing. The best way to obtain valid consent is to ask customers to tick opt-in boxes confirming they are happy to receive marketing calls, texts or emails from you.
    • To be valid, consent must be knowingly and freely given, clear and specific.
    • However, consent isn’t required if a ‘soft opt-in’ applies: i.e. if they’re an existing customer and you’re contacting them for a similar reason to previously; you’re following up a lead arising from a sale or negotiations for a sale of a product or service; or you’re only marketing similar products or services.
    • You should always keep clear records of what a person has consented to, and when and how you got this consent, so that you can demonstrate compliance in the event of a complaint.
    • Be careful when relying on indirect consent (i.e. consent originally given to a third party). You must make checks to ensure that the consent is valid and specifically covers your marketing, as generic consent covering any third party is unlikely to be enough.
    • Remember that the customer is entitled to withdraw their consent at any time.
  • PECR doesn’t apply if you’re contacting companies and corporate bodies, but do remember that you’re still subject to GDPR guidelines.
  • While PECR’s extra rules for electronic communications apply regardless of whether you’re processing personal data or not, GDPR will still apply if you are.
  • Action will be taken against organisations that breach the regulations and persistently ignore their obligations, starting with those that generate the most complaints.
  • It includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit, and a fine of up to £500,000.

Keep your PECR up – it’s worth it…

If your business is involved in E-marketing of any sort, then you need to keep your PECR up; otherwise you could end up down in the mouth and a lot poorer for it. There is a lot to remember; but if you know who you’re contacting, are clear on why you’re contacting them, and are happy that they’re happy to hear from you, then you’ve made a good start.

We’re here to help.

But if you’re not sure about what you need to do or how to approach things with direct marketing and PECR, please get in touch – it’s what we’re here for!

We can help advise you on what else you need to do when obtaining consent, how to manage bought-in lists, live and recorded calls, and what else to consider when sending emails, texts, mail and faxes.

Now, does anyone know how we can unsubscribe from the East Henley Tuba Liberation Front? There’re still some unscrupulous E-marketing sharks out there, which makes us think we’re gonna need a bigger spam filter…

Until next time...

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