DMA Invites Member Comment on Proposed Ethics Guidelines

The Direct Marketing Association said today that it launched Direct Comment, an initiative to let DMA members weigh in on proposed ethics guidelines as they are drafted.

“Rather than keeping the deliberation in the committee and the councils, the members will be able to see the proposed guidelines and offer comments,” said Pat Kachura, DMA senior vice president of ethics and consumer affairs.

The DMA is seeking member comment on proposed guidelines for the ethical use of software programs for marketing purposes by a deadline of June 20.

Direct Comment is a members-only Web page that can be found at Comments will be reviewed before proposed guidelines are submitted to the DMA's board of directors for approval.

The announcement followed last week's release of a set of 10 member principles that reflect how DMA members should conduct marketing and customer relationships and form the foundation of the association's Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice. The principles, released June 2, condense the 51 articles of the DMA's ethics guidelines to 10 points.

The DMA said last summer that it was reviewing its guidelines and hoped to release an updated version this year.

“The truth is that we are updating the guidelines constantly,” Kachura said. “The committee that works on the guidelines meets eight times a year, and so guideline revisions are constant. 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. “What we wanted to do was set out the basic spirit of what we think all DMA members should follow so that the interpretations of the guidelines will be easier going forward.”

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

The 10 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.

Kachura said that the DMA needs to do a lot more to promote the principles and guidelines and has discussed a communication campaign but no details are available yet.

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 board. The member principles and ethics guidelines can be found at

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

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