Jonathan Lenz, Account Director at CubanEight explains how to approach regulatory changes from a PR perspective.
Regulatory changes in any industry always bring about some interesting developments that can provide some great PR opportunities. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in May 2018, is a good example of this as it is of huge relevance to our clients in the marketing tech space, as well as many other industry sectors. The new regulation seeks to improve and simplify data protection for EU citizens and give them more power over their data. The implications of it coming into force promise to be significant and far-reaching as businesses gear up to be compliant over the coming months.
Now, the glaringly obvious thing here is what effect this will have on UK businesses after Brexit – will it still be relevant? Will it change further? Well, we don’t yet know and won’t for a while. We can work with the facts we have for now though, and companies will need to abide, and it will still apply to any clients/brands based in the EU.
With such sweeping transformation usually comes PR opportunity, which can take the form of advice, insight, comment and opinion. So, how best to approach regulatory changes from a PR perspective?
At CubanEight, it is an integral part of our approach to immerse ourselves in our clients’ industries and the issues their customers are facing. At such times, it is particularly important to collaborate closely and delve deep into the companies we represent. This might mean you need to deal with contacts within the business that are not usually on your radar – getting the viewpoint of frontline staff can often be as enlightening as hearing more strategic opinion from the board.
Ask how will this affect the business? What challenges will this create? What opportunities may arise? What might change once Brexit happens as it’s an EU regulation? Taking all of this into account, you can inform the PR strategy and brand messaging and develop a viewpoint to position business leaders as experts to their stakeholder audiences.
But this collaboration should be a two-way street. In order to provide effective communications consultancy, you need to know the subject inside-out yourself. Reading up on the new regulation to figure out exactly what it means and who it affects should be an obvious first step. As PR professionals, we should also be expert at what others, including key media contacts, are saying about the subject. News alerts are a simple way to keep on top of press coverage on the topic. Keeping abreast of this may also throw up opportunities to join the debate, and sometimes, to discover angles you hadn’t considered.
When working in a specific business sector or marketplace, industry events are an invaluable tool for any PR professional to keep in touch with the latest hot topics. Speakers at conferences will often give valuable insight into an industry-wide subject such as new regulations, which are set to impact on the audience. Moreover, with a room full of people all with a vested interest, you’ll be amongst the first to hear current conversations about any significant forthcoming changes. You may also glean some useful advice on how other businesses are going about preparing for compliance that you may be able to take back to your own organisation.
Know the competition
Major industry developments such as the implementation of GDPR present a valid opportunity to position a brand as a trusted advisor and expert. The challenge is that with many brands competing to get their voice heard, it can quickly become a very crowded and noisy space. Learn who the competition is and monitor their output on the topic. Who is most vocal? What are they saying about it? Do you and your business agree?
Be the expert
Regulatory changes can be a complex area and there may well be a role to play in educating both key target audiences for your business as well as journalists who perhaps do not understand the topic and its implications for the industry in any great depth. We have worked successfully with clients in the long build up to the implementation of a new regulation to educate target media about the issues involved in order to establish our clients as expert advisors. These spokespeople can be proactively promoted to business desks and trade media outlets as commentators on the day that the regulation goes live. Tactics such as additional industry research or round table debates hooked into the topic can also be used to develop depth of understanding and longevity of the PR campaign.
While each brand will differ in how it wants to approach or respond to regulatory changes, the key is to say something that adds value and brings a new perspective. With GDPR for example, there are several commentators who are currently bemoaning the challenges it will bring; therefore, we are working closely with some of our clients to develop a narrative that focusses on the positives of GDPR. This approach has already resulted in multiple commentary pieces in key media and across industry forums.
Although the end is in sight for GDPR coming into force, as the deadline for compliance approaches, there is a clear window of opportunity to join the debate during the months ahead. While the long-term industry outcome of this particular regulation remains in the balance, one thing for certain is that this won’t be the last regulatory change for which PR professionals will need to ready themselves.
CubanEight is an award-winning PR agency that was established in 2009 with the aim of delivering exceptional PR campaigns which have a positive and tangible impact on the business objectives of the clients it works with. The CubanEight team has a range of expertise, from implementing large multinational campaigns to working with disruptive start-ups. CubanEight has offices in Oxfordshire and London.
The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by b2b pr specialist Heather Baker, founder TopLine Comms, an inbound marketing, B2B content marketing agency and proud HubSpot partner agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say. Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact her via email on [email protected].
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