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Communications and Marketing

Mass Email Criteria

The following criteria must be met before requesting mass email communications to the Carolina community.

Quality Criteria for Mass Email

All mass email requests must adhere to the following standards:

  • Distribution: The request form must be submitted at least five business days before your requested distribution date.
  • Content: The content must follow university guidelines, as noted in the Communications and Marketing brand toolbox and the best practices for developing effective emails. Content must also address one of the following critical needs for all faculty, staff or student recipients:
    • Messages from university executive leadership, including the president, provost and Board of Trustees
    • Information about university-wide executive leadership strategic initiatives
    • Changes to processes impacting a significant portion of the university community
    • Deadlines or action-required items impacting all members of the university community
    • Changes or significant enhancement in benefits of employment (to faculty or staff only).
  • Templates: All emails must use an approved HTML template to conform with university brand standards. Custom templates are no longer an option in the new system.
  • Sender: The sender must be a University of South Carolina administrative office, academic unit or department.
  • Recipients: All email recipients must have a university-issued email address.
  • Accessibility: All mass email content must be fully accessible, following the specifications on the Guides & Tutorials section of the Digital Accessibility site.
  • Exclusions: Messages will not be sent if they contain:
    • Solicitations and surveys (excluding limited university-level circumstances)
    • Solicitations for participation in research and customer-service-oriented surveys will not be distributed through the university’s central mass email system. Individuals have the option to submit a FOIA request to obtain an email list (current student email list, current faculty/staff email list, etc.) for this purpose.
    • Event promotion (excluding certain university-level sponsored events)
    • Personal appeals
    • Explicit material


Content Review and Approval

The Division of Communications and Marketing will review all submitted mass email requests to ensure compliance with quality criteria, communications best practices and channel effectiveness. If necessary, the email administrator may consult with the email author to determine if mass email is the appropriate distribution channel and suggest other channels that could be more effective, including:

  • USC Today e-newsletter
  • University calendar
  • Gateways
  • Targeted distribution list
  • Digital boards
  • Unit- or department-level resources such as website, intranet, listservs, newsletter, etc.


Best Practices for Developing Effective Emails

  1. Your message content should be brief, clear and relevant to all recipients. Instead of incorporating detailed information within the body of your email, provide a compelling summary and a link to additional details on your website.
  2. Who (person or entity) the message appears to be "from" is important. Many people evaluate the importance and relevance of your message based on who it's from.
  3. Keep your email subject succinct, no more than 60 characters is best practice. 
  4. Avoid acronyms and jargon.
  5. Send collaborative messages with other university offices to prevent redundancy.
  6. Instead of sending attachments, upload documents to your unit website’s “documents” folder and include the link.
  7. If linking to additional details on your website, ensure that the linked content is accurate and consistent with the mass email message. 
  8. Don't use “click here” language in or leading to hyperlinked content; instead, use a more descriptive phrase. 
  9. Proof the message before submission for grammar and spelling.
  10. Provide a contact mechanism for follow-up questions.

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