The Growth of Privacy; Day 14 – In a Word: Integrity

FEBRUARY 16, 2020

If I had just one word, integrity would have to be it.

I think it encapsulates so many of the finer aspects of behaviour that I aspire to in every aspect of what I do.  (I say ‘aspire to’ here very deliberately; I do not pretend to always succeed.)

Two of the people I have learned an awful lot from over the years or so have been Earl Nightingale and Dan Kennedy, both in very different ways, but I have noticed a particular emphasis on integrity in the work of each of them.

In fact, one of my favourite Dan Kennedy pieces paraphrases Voltaire in saying that if integrity did not exist as a moral construct, we would have to invent it as a marketing strategy.

In that the best marketing involves simply saying very clearly what you will do; and then doing as well as you can that which you said you would do.

Acting with integrity in other words.

So many people see marketing as the flashy use of gimmicks, but real marketing, good marketing, operates at a totally different level.

A fundamental level.

Unusually for a lawyer, I came to data protection and privacy via marketing, in that I came to appreciate the existential importance and practical application of these legal disciplines to business through the marketing lens.

And again the marketer’s approach to privacy and data protection compliance rarely comes from a position of integrity.

It usually starts from the point that there’s all this stuff we want to do and data protection and privacy present us with obstacles in how we would like to do them.  And so the focus tends to become how can we avoid or evade the obligation, if possible, and, if not, how can we tick a box of compliance that involves the minimum disruption or inconvenience.

But if we were to approach this problem with real integrity we would see an opportunity.  The goal of the marketer is to start and then maintain a business relationship. 

All good relationships are based on mutual respect. 

So, if we are to build sustainable relationships in a digital age, we have to start with a fundamental respect for the data protection rights and privacy of our prospects and customers. 

In other words, rather than to see these things are a burden or challenge of compliance, we have to go deep and show those that we deal with that we really care about them and structure our businesses to respect their rights.

It may involve more change and work in the short term. 

But then again, doing the right thing, acting with integrity; nobody ever promised that that was going to be the easy way.

Just the right way.


flor mccarthy

Flor McCarthy is one of Ireland’s leading lawyers and a recognised expert in marketing. He has particular expertise and hands-on practical experience in privacy, data protection and GDPR issues for marketers. He is certified by the Law Society of Ireland in Data Protection Practice and lectures lawyers on data protection practice and compliance. He is managing partner of a multi award-winning niche legal practice. He has been in private practice for over 20 years and has been elected by his peers to sit on the exclusive Council of the Law Society of Ireland, the governing body for Irish lawyers.

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