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Internal Mass Email Definition, Usage Guidelines, and Best Practices

The University of Minnesota strives to use all forms of campus communications resources effectively and efficiently. 

Email is an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly way to communicate with large groups of people. However, non-strategic use of mass email can reduce employee productivity and hinder the University’s ability to deliver critical messages.

Recognizing these expectations and concerns, the University has created these requirements, guidelines, and best practices to ensure email remains an effective form of communication. This page includes the following information:

  • Definition
  • Appropriate Use of Mass Email
  • Official Messaging
  • Best Practices
  • Accessibility

Definition

Email is the University’s official means of communicating information to students as stated in Using Email as Official Student Communication policy. 

Mass email is any email message sent to an entire campus or large subset (e.g., all students, all undergraduates, all graduate and/or professional students, all staff, all faculty, systemwide, campus-specific). See Internal Mass Email Lists for more information.

All mass emails must follow the University’s mass email guidelines and procedures and be consistent with any applicable state and federal laws. These requirements do not apply to units when sending messages within their own unit, school, or college or to emails in which all subscribers signed up voluntarily to receive information.

Appropriate Use of Mass Email

Use of the University's mass email system to send messages to large internal audiences is governed by the following principles:

  • The email must pertain to a majority of the desired recipients.
  • The message must assist in or support the recipients' ability to conduct their business or education at the University.
  • The information should be deemed critical enough to distribute to the entire audience.

Inappropriate Use of Mass Email

Unacceptable use of mass email includes:

  • Messages sent to any large internal list for the purpose of marketing or advertising of programs, majors, classes, awards, research opportunities, job postings, calls for proposals, products, or events offered or sponsored by individual units. Units should use other methods of communication for these purposes, such as Brief, MyU, the Events Calendar, or established email newsletters.
  • Messages that are not in line with the mission of the University.
  • Messages that are personal in nature.
  • Solicitations for contributions, charities, or participation in personal activities not related to University purposes or not sponsored by the University.
  • Solicitations for non-University businesses operated by University faculty or staff.
  • Messages that target audiences that might appear discriminatory or may appear to infringe on privacy.
  • Offensive material.
  • Attachments are not allowed. Use a link to a website or a Google doc instead.
  • Messages sent to University email addresses must be consistent with existing University policies (see Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources).

Official Messaging

In order to share information quickly and efficiently with faculty, staff, and students, the University uses email as its official form of communication. All emails that end in an @umn.edu address are required to receive official email communications sent by the University. In most cases, there is no option for @umn.edu email accounts to unsubscribe from official University communications and these emails are not considered spam under applicable laws. 

A few examples of official University emails are:

  • Messages from the president or provost
  • Messages regarding benefits, employment, or policies
  • Alerts and critical information relating to safety, health, or welfare

Best Practices

To keep the amount of mass email at a minimum and to promote readability, follow these best practices:

  • A mass email message should be brief, self-explanatory, clear, and concise.
  • Avoid sending frequent or repeated messages. Use other communication methods noted below.
  • Send collaborative messages with others at the University to avoid redundancy and reduce the number of messages sent.

Alternative Communication Choices

Before deciding on mass email as the choice for any communication, units are strongly encouraged to use alternative communications. Contact your parent unit's communications professional for additional options.

Crookston

Campus Weekly (for faculty and staff)

News from the Nest (for on-campus students)

Regal's Scoop (for online students) 

Campus Today (current day's events, Instagram feed and timely links)

Events Calendar

Duluth

UMD News website
For more on UMD news contact umdnews@d.umn.edu

Bulldog Update (weekly digest of campus activities for students)

Morris

Weekly Bulletin (newsletter for students, staff, faculty)

Submissions can be sent to jrray@morris.umn.edu (must be received by Tuesday at 4 p.m. for Wednesday publication).

Events Calendar

Twin Cities

Undergraduate Update (monthly newsletter)

ACCU: Academic, Career & Campus Update (bi-weekly newsletter for graduate, professional students and post-docs)

Synthesist (bi-weekly newsletter for graduate, professional students and post-docs, grad faculty and staff)

The Post (monthly newsletter for postdoctoral scholars)

Events Calendar (submissions open to all faculty and staff)

Systemwide

Brief (weekly newsletter for faculty and staff, contact brief@umn.edu)

MyU (contact myunews@umn.edu)

Google Groups (opt in based on interest or affiliation)

Accessibility

Mass email sent by University units must be accessible to all message recipients. When creating an HTML mass email message, follow University guidelines, refer to the Accessibility of Information Technology policy, and contact the Computer Accommodations Program in the Disability Resource Center at cap@umn.edu if you have questions.

Use these guidelines to ensure your messages meet accessibility requirements:

  • Use heading tags, rather than simply changing the font style, size, weight, and other attributes.
  • Add alternative text for images that convey meaning or represent branding logos and other marks.
  • Hide decorative images using an empty alt attribute – alt="".
  • Links should be clear and able to stand alone. Avoid links such as "click here," "read full article," more information" and so on.
  • Do not rely on color alone to convey information.
  • Be sure that the contrast between text and the background is significantly high.

More Information

If you have questions about the mass email guidelines and requirements, contact urweb@umn.edu

Guidelines

Templates

Tools

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