Iowa State University

ITInformation Technology

Mass Email and Effective Electronic Communication

Policy Information
Reviewed: April 8, 2013
Updated: April 19, 2013



Electronic communication (including email, websites, listservs, and voice mail) is used extensively at Iowa State University. In particular, email is a powerful electronic communication tool when used effectively. The university seeks to enable the distribution of email as efficiently as possible.

Because of the high volume of email as well as our dependence on its reliable delivery, it is important that we observe best practices to ensure effective use of email in a manner that is beneficial to all.

Following guidelines for large-scale or mass email can help email traffic flow smoothly for everyone.

The first section of this document notes existing electronic communication channels that should be used when sending a mass email. The second section notes best practices for email. The third section covers policies and procedures for large-scale mailing. We encourage the inclusion of the best practices noted here in departmental and college guidelines.


  • Ensure University resources are used effectively.
  • Preserve email as an effective communication tool.
  • Enable smooth delivery of mass emails.

1. Using Existing Communication Channels

Iowa State University has many existing electronic communications or publications that are published or updated regularly. When you want to disseminate an announcement to the university community, please use one of these methods, if it is appropriate to the publication, rather than doing your own mass email.

To assist with effective communication to the university community, Iowa State University has many existing electronic communications or publications that are published or updated regularly. When you want to disseminate an announcement to the university community, you should use one of these methods if it is appropriate to the publication rather than doing your own mass email.

All faculty and staff receive Inside Update, a weekly email update of university news and announcements that supplements the faculty/staff newspaper. Inside Update is sent on Wednesday evenings for arrival by Thursday morning. Departments are encouraged to submit short one-paragraph announcements that are of general interest to faculty and staff. To refer readers to additional information, include a Web address. Send submissions to (inside (at) iastate (dot) edu)

News and announcements for faculty and staff that are of more specific interest than that included in Inside Update are posted online in Faculty/Staff Announcements. Send submissions to

inside (at) iastate (dot) edu
. News and announcements specific to students are posted online in Student Announcements. Send submissions to .

Both the faculty/staff and student announcements sites are linked from Iowa State's News Service. The News Service site carries news and features of interest to general audiences, including not only the campus community, but alumni, students, prospective students and their parents, Iowans, and others with an interest in Iowa State University.

2. E-Mail Best Practices

Is the email relevant to the University's core missions, or is it important in protecting physical, financial, or human assets? If not, distributing a mailing to a university email list may not be appropriate.

The following best practices for mass mailings can help with the most efficient distribution.

  • Consult with the Solution Center (515-294-4000, ) for mailings to more than 4000-5000 recipients to help explore all options. If possible, send mass mailings outside of University business hours, weekdays 8am - 5pm.
  • It is recommended that Account Services on the Web (ASW) be used in establishing email lists.
  • Setting up the addresses correctly is important. For large mailings, don't put a list name or list of addresses in the To: field. Instead, you should put your own email address in the To: and From: fields and place the list name or list of email addresses in the Bcc: field. Using this method keeps the list of recipients from being displayed with the email and keeps anyone replying to the email from sending his or her response to the entire list, creating more traffic than was originally intended.

3. Mass Email Policies and Procedures

3.1. Approval

All electronic communications are expected to comply with federal and state laws, as well as University regulations and policies, including those governing public computing resources, security considerations, and ethics in computing.

Permission to mail to a group is not needed if you are the authorized agent for the group or are conducting normal University business (e.g., reminders to Library patrons about book due dates). The role of approval is delegated to specific governing groups (e.g., P&S Council may mail to P&S staff; Faculty Senate may mail to faculty). Before using a list that someone else owns, you must ask permission to use it. Access to a list does not necessarily imply permission to use.

If you wish to do a large mailing to a group and are from outside of the unit, area, or division, you must get approval from the office authorized to give permission to mail to that audience (see the table below). Exceptions or requests that fall outside the scope of this table will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Direct your request to the head of the division or unit for the intended audience.

Intended Audience Approving Office Contact or Delegate
All faculty, staff, or students President or appropriate Senior Vice President Faculty and Staff: Human Resource Services,
Students: Registrar's Office,
Faculty and/or staff and/or students in another college or division Appropriate Dean, DEO, or Director Office of relevant Dean, DEO, or Director

3.2. Procedures

  • After obtaining approval to do a mass mailing, obtain authorization to use the mailing list. All list owners are encouraged to consider the benefits of moderating or otherwise controlling access to large lists. This applies whether a list has been created for one-time use or is maintained as a standing list, whether compiled manually or from the central database, and whether membership is involuntary or by subscription. Authorization to use a mailing list is given by the list owner or the person/office empowered to give such permission.
  • If a list needs to be extracted from an Information Technology Services (ITS) database, the person authorizing the use of the list must send approval to the appropriate ITS analyst, who will process the actual request for list extraction. Contact the Registrar's office for student email lists and Human Resource Services for faculty and staff mail lists. There is a fee for list extraction.
  • If desired, ITS will send mass mailings for faculty, staff, and students for a fee. Submit mailing details by logging into the Mass Email Request.
  • To discuss further options and procedures, contact the Solution Center at or 515-294-4000.

3.3. Mass Email Checklist

Before you send a large-scale mailing, you should ensure you can answer "yes" to each of the following questions:

  • Is email the best or appropriate method to get information to your intended audience?
  • Is the message relevant to the university's core missions?
  • Have you included in the content of the message:
    • A "From:" address where replies will be received
    • The office, organization, or individual sending the message
    • Contact information if there is a question, comment, or complaint about the message
    • An explanation of why the recipient is receiving the message
    • Required information presented succinctly
    • Pointers to Website or elsewhere for additional information, if applicable
    • An approval notice
  • Do you have authorization to use the mailing list?
  • If your mailing will go to more than 1,000 recipients, do you have approval to do a mass mailing to your intended audience?