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DMA Bolsters Ethics Guidelines With Member Principles

The Direct Marketing Association postponed updating its Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice and instead released a set of 10 member principles that reflect how members should conduct marketing and customer relationships.

The principles, released yesterday, condense the 51 articles of the DMA's ethics guidelines down to 10 points that form the framework of the guidelines. The DMA said last summer that it was reviewing the guidelines and hoped to release an updated version this year.

“The truth is that we are updating the guidelines constantly. The committee that works on the guidelines meets eight times a year, and so guideline revisions are constant,” said Pat Kachura, DMA senior vice president of ethics and consumer affairs. “The principles, in my view, were an attempt to simplify and communicate well to all our members — and that would be B-to-C, B-to-B and nonprofit — what it is we stand for as a DMA member.”

Changes in the industry also made the principles necessary, she said.

“The guidelines are very specific by medium and type of promotion, and we kept coming to the point where there was new technology evolving and new practices evolving, and every time something new came up we had to go back to the guidelines and redo them,” Kachura said.

Though no major overhaul of the guidelines is planned for the future, she said, they will continue to evolve.

The principles state that a DMA member:

· Is committed to its customers' satisfaction.

· Clearly, honestly and accurately represents its products, services, terms and conditions.

· Delivers its products and services as represented.

· Communicates in a respectful and courteous manner.

· Responds to inquiries and complaints in a constructive, timely way.

· Maintains appropriate security policies and practices to safeguard information.

· Provides information on its policies about the transfer of personally identifiable information for marketing purposes.

· Honors requests not to have personally identifiable information transferred for marketing purposes.

· Honors requests not to receive future solicitations from its organization.

· Follows the spirit and letter of the law as well as the DMA's Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice.

“We know that we really need to get the membership to understand the guidelines,” said Harriet Heyman, chairwoman of the DMA's Ethics Policy Committee and vice president, senior strategic consultant, at San Antonio-based Harte-Hanks Inc. “If they follow the principles, I think they can all stay out of trouble.”

The principles were developed by the DMA's Ethics Operating Committee, Committee on Ethical Business Practice and Teleservices Ethics Committee and approved by the DMA's board of directors. The member principles and ethics guidelines can be found at www.the-dma.org/guidelines.

Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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