Broadcast Email Messages: Effective Tool or Spamming Ourselves?

& Faculty/Staff, General.

Broadcast email messages are those sent to everyone, all-students and non-students @emu.edu. Any EMU employee can send to these email addresses. Info Systems receives unsolicited feedback periodically from the campus community that is often critical of the number and kinds of broadcast messages sent. I offer the following comments for the campus community to consider:

  1. SGA reps on the Info Systems Planning Committee (ISPC) consistently tell us that students do not regularly read EMU email messages, and many always ignore “all-students” messages, mostly because they consider these messages “internal spam”.
  2. Students and employees can “opt-out” of broadcast messages by visiting the email broadcast options page.  Urgent broadcast messages are sent to everyone-urgent, all-students-urgent and non-students-urgent @emu.edu addresses and are not subject to the opt-out provisions of the system. Only a limited number of authorized persons can send “urgent” broadcast messages.
  3. Before sending a broadcast message, senders are urged to consider alternative communications venues. These are discussed in the Broadcast Communications section of the Info Systems HelpZone (www.emu.edu/is/helpzone) and include using the EMU Web Events Calendar and EMU eClassifieds.
  4. Our broadcast email system is aging and due for a major upgrade which will be part of an overall email system upgrade sometime in the next two years.  As part of our planning process we will be considering a wide spectrum of communications resources, some of which could replace current broadcast email use.
  5. When sending broadcast messages, we recommend that you:
    1. Keep the message short and succinct.
    2. Proof-read the message carefully.  Consider sending it to yourself first to make sure it says what you want it to say.
    3. If attaching a file, PDF files work best (and they are generally smallest). All EMU-owned computers can create PDF files.  If you don’t know how to do this, contact the IS Helpdesk.
    4. Send to the most narrowly defined list.  Broadcast email lists are described on the Broadcast Communications web page.
    5. Use “plain text” format.  Because our broadcast email system is aging it often cannot format full HTML messages properly and the result is “a bunch of garbage”.  There is no way for you to know what will format correctly and what won’t (in this case, sending a sample message to yourself does not use the same “email engine” that broadcast messages use).

To summarize: Think carefully as you consider whether to send a broadcast email message.  If you decide you need to send a broadcast message, take some time to carefully write it.  Review the information on the Broadcast Communications web page to determine how best to send your message.