Managing electronic communications at UCSF can be overwhelming, whether you are trying to distribute your information or triage the influx.

Smart Mail is a campus-wide initiative to improve electronic communications by:

  • Empowering senders to target their audience.
  • Channeling non-critical information away from email.

2015 Smart Mail Survey

Smart Mail was led by the EVCP Office, CTSI and the SOM Communications Office and governed by a committee that includes stakeholders across the campus. In fall 2015, they conducted a survey for faculty and staff to assess the effectiveness and challenges of internal email communications.

Guidelines for Communicators

To keep mass email effective, it has to be targeted – meaning, professionally relevant to the majority of recipients. Sending messages that are not relevant to thousands of individuals is a waste of their valuable time and erodes the usefulness of broadcast emails (also known as mass emails) as many recipients will filter it and often disregard it altogether.

Here are some guidelines for sending mass emails at UCSF:

Identify a Relevant Distribution

Outlook Distribution Groups

A number of ready-made distribution groups are accessible via Outlook that might be a good match for your internal target audience, alone or in combination. When you access the Global Address Book in Outlook and type, for instance, "SOM," you will see a long list of SOM distribution lists. If you see one that you think might match your target audience, right-click on the name to verify the list's properties and members.

The main advantages of distribution groups are the ability to access through the Global Address Book and to send secure emails.


UCSF also has role-based administrative listservs. These are primarily for central administration use for dissemination of policy and need-to-know information.

The main advantages of listservs are the ability to add external subscribers and support web archiving of messages.

Do's and Don'ts for Mass Emailing

  • Do not attempt to use school-wide / UCSF-wide mass email lists, unless you know for sure your message is relevant to at least a large majority of recipients.
  • Do not send reminders. Instead, use other channels to catch people’s attention, i.e., flyers, posters, news digests, online groups, social media.
  • Do make sure to send your email from an email address that's a credible source. If the email is sent on behalf of a group, consider using a resource account for that group rather than the personal address of the sender.
  • Do use subject lines that get to the point. For example, rather than "Only 2 weeks left to submit," an effective subject line would be "Apply for Bridge funding – deadline August 15."
  • Do keep the email short and concise with a link to your website and/or the campus calendar for any further details,
  • Do proofread your message carefully and have it reviewed by the appropriate authority before sending it. A second message with corrections looks unprofessional and is a nuisance to the recipient.
  • Do not send attachments, if possible. Instead, send a Box or website link.

More information on UCSF email best practices »

Alternative Ways to Promote Your News and Events

1)  Get your item included in an existing UCSF e-newsletter. Check this running inventory of UCSF e-newsletters

2)  Write an announcement for the relevant UCSF website.

3)  For events, create a listing on the UCSF Events Calendar. All events promoted through the main website of Pulse Today newsletter are sourced through the UCSF Events Calendar.

4)  Promote via relevant social media accounts. Keep in mind that most social media accounts are meant to be public-facing, so if your item is a mostly internal announcement, keep it on internal-facing channels.

5)  Create an ad for UCSF digital signs, managed by Campus Life Services.