Privacy: Weighing the benefits of personalized marketing communications with a person’s right to privacy

When it comes to digital marketing, an agency’s reach can quickly exceed its grasp. We had this point brought home to us recently.

At MDT Marketing, we take our creativity with personalized, multi-channel marketing campaigns very seriously. To demonstrate our prowess, we considered sending attendees at the upcoming APSCU Convention a promotional mailer tying in personalized data elements from LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. Good idea?

Maybe not. How much is too much personalization and at what point does a personalized marketing campaign start infringing on an individual’s privacy… or perceived privacy? And when does a campaign cross the line from business-like engagement to over bearing creepiness?

In a May 20, 2014 New York Times article, “Four Words Going Bye-Bye”, columnist Thomas Freidman proclaimed, “The more I read the news, the more it looks to me that four words are becoming obsolete and destined to be dropped from our vocabulary.” One of those words was privacy.

People have no idea how the information that they voluntarily give out to others, (perhaps on forms that we fill out on the Internet or pictures that people take of us) can be pulled together through advances in “big data” and data analytic technology, exposing personal lives to the world. They also don’t realize how the personal information they put on the Internet years ago is still out there for businesses, individuals and countries to utilize, sometimes in deceptive, even nefarious ways.

Back to our brainstorming meeting about ideas to promote our multi-channel personalized communications program. We decided that since this was a business to business campaign, we would feel comfortable utilizing information from attendee LinkedIn accounts, knowing that they put this information on LinkedIn for everyone to see. We also decided not to use any information from Facebook or Google+ accounts, concluding that those users often post information they think is private, not realizing that they may have used the wrong privacy settings when starting an account.

We are in a day and age where information about people’s lives is becoming more and more available. And it can… and will be used in ways in which we never dreamed of, wanted or intended. I think that Thomas Friedman is right when he points out that our privacy is gone. Or at least the presumption of privacy is gone.

The curtain to our society’s backlit room may have been left open. Whether we can resist the temptation to look in as we pass is up to each of us.

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FTC Confirms Rules Will Stand

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) has completed its regulatory review of the Guides for Private Vocational and Distance Education Schools (“Vocational School Guides” or “Guides”) as part of its systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides and issues its revisions.

Guides for Private Vocational and Distance Education Schools

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APSCU Best Practices in Recruitment and Admissions

Excellent article regarding the APSCU Best Practices in Recruitment and Admissions, co-chaired by Mitch Talenfeld (CEO of MDT Direct) and Dr. James Hutton (Director KUCCEL and MSE-CCA at Keiser University).

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APSCU Notice Regarding TCPA New Guidelines

APSCU released notice yesterday, highlighting what schools need to know in order to be in compliance with the upcoming TCPA rules taking effect on October 16, 2013.  This is valuable reading for any school that makes phone calls to potential students.

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Is the FCC about to make the sky fall?

It may seem that way.  New regulations take effect on October 16, 2013 that affect every for-profit business in the United States that calls potential customers on their mobile phones.  For a perspective, please read our contribution to Workforce Communications’ July edition here.

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It’s not just about the message any more

Today’s population is so bombarded with communications, if you don’t speak directly to the recipient, they most likely won’t listen. Is it more complicated to send out personalized communications? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Read about how cross-media, personalized communications work.

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Preview dialing – Court rules not manual enough for TCPA compliance

As the walls close in on dialing systems, a recent ruling by federal court emphasized the need for the FCC to clearly define what “human intervention” truly means. In this ruling, the court asserted that a human clicking a single button to make an individual call to a mobile phone on a software that has the capacity to auto-dial is in violation of the TCPA. For a more detailed analysis of what that means, read on.

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Another gold star for For-Profit Education

In response to all of the attention Congress focused on for-profit education, the state of Minnesota launched its own internal fact finding mission, looking into their for-profit and state run two year colleges. The results of this review were posted last week by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

What they found confirms what for-profit institutions have been trying to tell everyone since all of the recent legislative attention began: For-profit education works.

At the conclusion of their study they found, “Students attending one of Minnesota’s for-profit institutions are as likely to be employed one year after graduation as students from public two-year institutions, but pay more for tuition and accumulate more debt than their public-school counterparts. They are less likely to default on their student loans than students at Minnesota’s public two-year institutions. Additionally, median income levels among for-profit students are higher than public two-year students.”

Congratulations to the schools in Minnesota.

Click here for the full Minnesota Office of Higher Education Study.

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FCC Amendments and For-Profit School Recruitment – Compliance is Critical.

Mitchell Roth, one of the industry’s leading experts in Communications law recently published an article articulating what schools need to know to stay compliant with these new regulations. His insight provides critical knowledge schools and agencies must understand in order to continue with recruitment advertising and calling.

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission finalized amendments to its regulations implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Once fully effective, these amendments will further restrict the manner in which for-profit schools can initiate recruitment calls to the cell phones of past, current, and prospective students using both live operators and prerecorded messages, transmitting prerecorded recruitment messages to landlines, and provide further limitations on the practice of abandoning outbound calls. For-profit schools and marketing partners that do not implement new internal practices to ensure compliance with these amended regulations could be exposed to governmental fines and class action lawsuits.

Continue reading…

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Ever wonder how a business can effectively use Twitter?

You are not alone. So much so that Twitter on Monday re-launched its “Twitter for Business” page. Whether you are just curious to see how some brands are effectively using Twitter or want to see if using Twitter is the right channel for promoting your company, they’ve including a comprehensive overview of everything Twitter for businesses. If only other channels would be so helpful… It’s definitely worth checking out if you’ve ever considered Twitter for your company.

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