The Office of Public Affairs and Strategic Communications (PASC) strives to use campus communications resources effectively and efficiently. Although email is an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly way to communicate with large groups of people, non-strategic use of mass email can reduce productivity and be a hindrance to the University's ability to deliver critical messages. Realizing these challenges, PASC has curated these requirements, guidelines, and best practices to ensure email remains an effective form of communication for our campus community.   

Why Mass Email Guidelines? 

Because they are necessary. The purpose of these guidelines is to instruct users on appropriate use of mass email sends and to provide recommendations on how to properly send high-priority messages in order to reduce recipient complaints and confusion, reinforce security best practices and effectively, and efficiently utilize campus resources.  These guidelines apply to all Cal Maritime personnel who send, or arrange for a third-party to send, mass emails to University students, faculty, staff, or campus-wide.  


Guidelines for Mass Email Distribution

Mass email is defined as an email sent to a group of recipients with or without their expressed willingness to be a recipient.  Mass email is often thought of as email sent to a large number of recipients, however, these guidelines can also be applicable in situations that involve a small number of recipients. 

Generally speaking, mass email is appropriate for:

  • Messages that directly relate to the continuance of University business
  • Messages that alert the campus community of health and safety issues
  • Messages that relate to changes in University policy or time-sensitive procedures
  • Messages that make the campus community aware of events and opportunities available to them and offered or sponsored by departments, divisions, groups, or individuals currently affiliated with Cal Maritime, including special programs, speakers, research opportunities, and events..

Inappropriate use of mass email includes, but is not limited to:

  • Messages that are counter to the University’s mission and core values
  • Messages that are personal in nature
  • Messages that are solicitations or commercial in nature with the exception of those messages that are in support of University business and are approved by an officer of the University

The following recommendations are strongly encouraged when sending mass email:

  • Mass email should be sent from a verifiable University email account

    Mass email should not be sent from third-party email accounts such as Hotmail and Gmail.  These types of accounts provide no measure of authenticity.  It is recommended that all mass emails be sent from an email account.  Registration of these email accounts is controlled by the Department of Information Technology (IT) and email recipients can verify the owner of the email address through the Campus Directory.  It may also be appropriate to send mass email using a departmental email account (i.e. if the audience is internal to that department and recipients are able to verify the owner of the email address.  Please note that there are limited controls around the registration of departmental email addresses and, as a result, they can be misleading in terms of who the actual sender is.  It is important to note that any email address can be impersonated by someone with malicious intent.  If an email appears suspicious, the sender should be contacted to validate authenticity.

  • Mass email should be sent using Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc) functionality

    When replying to a mass email, a user may intentionally or unintentionally use the "reply-to-all" option that would result in a second mass email.  This type of scenario has a tendency to lead to additional replies.  Multiple replies to a mass email can overwhelm an email system and be a nuisance to users.  Leveraging blind carbon copy functionality eliminates this risk and helps protect the privacy of recipients.  In situations where a separate email is generated for each recipient, use of blind carbon copy functionality is not necessary.

  • Mass email should have a subject that clearly defines the purpose of the email

    Ambiguous subject lines make it difficult to differentiate between legitimate emails and spam or phishing emails.  As a result, an email may be inadvertently ignored or deleted.  Unnecessary tags, such as RE and FWD, should also be avoided.

  • Mass email should be sent in plain-text format when applicable

    Using plain-text format emails limits the number of security risks for recipients and eliminates many of the potential problems recipients could have in receiving and viewing email messages. Nefarious individuals may use HTML format emails to exploit software vulnerabilities and cause malicious harm. For example, hyperlinks and images can be disguised to trick a user into browsing to a malicious website. Because of this, some users configure their email clients to block certain aspects of HTML format emails (e.g. blocking images). If using HTML format emails, be sure that all hyperlinks are clearly described and link to a University web page. If possible, direct email recipients to visit a secure University web page in order to verify the contents of the message.

  • Mass email are required to have a departmental logo lockup as a header 

    Using a departmental logo lockup is a requirement for all departmental email sends to ensure recipients are able to easily identify the sender of the email. It is important to place the logo lockup in the top right corner of the body of a mass email when sending messages on behalf of a department to add consistency and a sense of professionalism, especially if the email were to be forwarded, screenshot, or shared with other recipients. To request a logo lockup for your department, or to request a how-to walthrough for adding your logo lockup to your email, contact the Office of Public Affairs and Strategic Communications (PASC) at More information on other branding tools and Cal Maritime email signatures can be found here

The following are several additional best practices to consider when sending mass email:

  • Avoid sending attachments in mass email

    Email attachments are a common tool for propagating computer viruses.  As a result, some users are hesitant to open unexpected attachments.  Senders of mass email should consider adding the information in the document to the body of the email, or posting files to a University-hosted website and then providing instructions in the email on how to download the file.  This provides some measure of authenticity.  Sending large attachments to multiple recipients can also create unnecessary load on email servers.

  • Avoid hyperlinks to third-party websites

    Spam and phishing emails often include hyperlinks to malicious websites.  As a result, recipients may be hesitant to click on a hyperlink even in an email that appears legitimate.  Similar to attachments, posting third-party hyperlinks to a University hosted website provides some measure of authenticity.

  • Consider sending mass email to a public distribution list(s) when available

    Distribution lists allow a user to create filters to better sort and manage their emails.  In some cases, distribution lists also allow a user to customize how they receive emails.

  • Consider posting a copy of mass emails on a well-known University-hosted website

    It is trivial to make an email appear to be an official announcement when in fact it is not.  Posting a copy of the email to a well known University-hosted website helps verify the authenticity of the email.  For example, campuswide emails and communications from the Office of the President can be found here, providing the campus community and general public direct access to Cal Maritime's official communications from its leadership.