Keeping up with Compliance
Noreen Kaminski, Vice President
Government Affairs/Legislative Compliance, DialAmerica
As I attend trade shows across the country, I find that many people get nervous when the conversation turns to compliance. What can they do to maintain their company’s reputation and avoid getting cited? How should their compliance team or department be structured? What should they be doing to stay on top of things? Where do they start?
Every marketing services organization needs to understand that effective compliance depends upon two pillars of knowledge. First, you need to fully understand the state and federal regulations affecting YOUR industry; and second, you need to be an expert on the laws, the terminology and compliance requirements of YOUR CLIENTS’ industries – i.e. the banking, pharmaceutical and online sectors you serve.
Today almost all companies are facing closer scrutiny by federal and state governments. Some are being slapped with heavy fines for regulatory infringements. As a result, you have no choice but to maintain a comprehensive, vigilant compliance program. For example, if you are sending out a direct mailing on behalf of a healthcare client, you may need to be compliant with HIPPA regulations. If your company is conducting a marketing campaign for an online company, you will likely have to comply with the FTC’s rules regarding privacy issues.
In the teleservices business, we must constantly cleanse our lists and improve our security – all with the goal of remaining fully compliant. It’s tough because state and federal laws and regulations constantly change. Over the years at DialAmerica, we’ve learned that it pays to work closely with the FTC, FDA and other federal authorities to ensure that we are never cited for a compliance problem. The more we can work together, the easier it is to be compliant in today’s dynamic marketplace!
Some of the tips I offer to people with compliance ‘cold-feet’ are the following:
- Attend industry conferences, such as the DMA and ATA, as well as trade events within the client industries your serve. This approach is enormously beneficial in staying abreast of compliance issues and changes.
- Work closely with a good law firm that understands your business’s laws and regulations. The “legalese” can be even more complex than the actual regulatory requirements.
- Get your name and face out there. Don’t be afraid to meet with lawmakers, FTC personnel and other government agents at industry functions. Ask them questions so that you can forge strong relationships. Let them know what you’re doing. It will make your job easier in the long run!