Corporate communications, including marketing communications, are subject to enough external regulations and internal controls to make even the most unflappable CCO shudder. Here, we’ll talk about what communications compliance is, the challenges surrounding it and why encryption is now a marketing compliance solution.
What is communications compliance?
Communications compliance is simply ensuring all internal and external communications, including social media postings, meet legal and regulatory standards that govern your industry. These standards are to protect client information and ensure your communications don’t mislead consumers. This is easy to say but gets complicated quickly due to the number of standards your communications must comply with.
For example, regulations and governing bodies that affect corporate communications include:
- The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS).
- The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
- The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
- The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II).
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
- The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).
And the following bodies also have additional guidelines for social media postings:
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC).
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- The American Bankers Association (ABA).
- FINRA and SEC, as above.
In social media compliance circles, we’re seeing discussion around professionals who inadvertently violate regulatory agreements on social media. For example, in some jurisdictions, a real estate agent who tweets another agent’s listing may be out of compliance because that tweet suggests an inconsistency with an exclusive-representation agreement. Whatever industry you’re in, you must address compliance issues, and this takes extra diligence in heavily regulated industries like financial services and healthcare.
What are the challenges of communications compliance?
The challenges of communications compliance include:
- Compliance is a moving target – With multiple regulatory bodies and guidelines to incorporate, plus the expanding role of compliance management professionals, compliance is continually evolving which makes staying ahead of the game difficult.
- Audit requirements – It’s essential that your company can audit your electronic communications which means original copies must be stored properly for the right amount of time. On the other hand, this “paper trail” also highlights any compliance violations which puts you at risk for fines and even class action lawsuits. For example, there’s a class action lawsuit against Bell Canada for its Relevant Advertising Program (RAP) that tracked customer activity to build profiles for third-party advertisers.
- So many communications! – Add marketing messages to customer and vendor communications and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of messages that leave your organization each year. Plus, with different types of messages requiring different approaches and protection, compliance gets complicated—especially if the right staff aren’t aware of the regulatory rules.
- Solutions reside across multiple business units – Compliance doesn’t belong to the compliance office; instead it resides across the entire business which can make governance more difficult and complex. For example, we see more marketing teams pursuing encryptions solutions for compliance—even though encryption is historically under IT’s purview.
Why compliance matters in marketing
Marketing is on the frontline of consumer protection. Compliance in marketing governs how businesses communicate with clients and prospects, protects personal data from misuse and ensures the principle of honesty in advertising is upheld.
Compliance challenges inside and outside of marketing departments are real, but organizations that address them holistically and consistently stay on the right side of regulations. One piece of the compliance equation is encryption.
Four reasons encryption is a marketing compliance solution:
- Data security – Encryption protects personal information used in marketing communications while it’s in transit to and from your customers and partners and while it’s stored on your own network. For example, PCI DIS requires that emails containing cardholder data are encrypted during transmission and protected in storage. This means that sensitive or personal information such as credit card numbers can only be saved on your network if they’re encrypted.
- Secure bulk delivery – Sending mass personalized communications securely is essential in many industries including insurance, government and healthcare. For example, if there’s a proposal for natural gas drilling in a specific area, a government might need to send a personalized message about this sensitive topic to all citizens residing in that geographical area. Our Secure Bulk Mail (SBM) delivery method makes this possible.Learn more about SBM.
- Digital trust – In digital customer relationships, trust is easy to get but nearly impossible to get back once it’s been lost. Using encryption to secure your client communications protects clients and shows them your organization takes their privacy and security seriously. With our OneWorld encryption platform, you can set language policies or branding attributes to automatically apply to encrypted communications based on sender, brand, locale and receiver attributes which creates a consistent and trustworthy user-experience.Learn more about building digital trust using encryption.
- Positive return on investment – Encryption is a compliance tool that saves organizations money. For example, a recent Forrester Total Economic Impact™ study, revealed that a typical enterprise-level organization using Echoworx’s OneWorld encryption platform can expect an ROI of 155 per cent—with upwards of $2.7M in cost-mitigating benefits and a payback period of seven months. Get the full Forrester Total Economic Impact™ study of OneWorld now.
Whether you’re a marketing, IT or compliance professional, encryption can help your organization reduce compliance risks while protecting personal information and securing customer trust. So why wait to integrate encryption into your communications compliance strategy?
By Neyson Lins, Campaign Manager at Echoworx