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Don’t Do This When Emailing a Group

Cyndy from Reston, Virginia, just sent this important reminder:

"When sending an email to multiple recipients from different companies, put addresses in the BCC field. Your audience will appreciate the fact that you are cognizant of protecting their privacy.

"To expound on my point, I am not just talking about large email blasts. For example, I recently received an email from a conference organizer that was sent to the 12 speakers lined up for the next day’s agenda. I blanched when I saw all recipient email addresses in the TO field. In listing our addresses in this manner, the sender put our information at risk of being scooped up by anyone desiring to grow their contact database."

Cyndy’s caution is Tip 82 in my "110 Tips for Sending Email That Gets Read–and Gets Results":

"Use BCCs to keep addresses confidential. For instance, if you write to 10 people who do not know one another, send them BCCs rather than revealing everyone’s address in the To line."

So you’ve heard it from both us. Please spread the word to anyone who sends messages to groups outside your company.

Syntax Training

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

2 comments on “Don’t Do This When Emailing a Group”

  • Lynn,

    Good advice!

    (But forgive me–it’s a bad post title! The combination of title and first paragraph had me expecting you to explain in the next paragraph why using the bcc field for a group is a bad idea. I wanted to *why* you would say “don’t do this when e-mailing a group.” But it turns out you agreed with her.)

  • Amy, you are absolutely right! When I read Cyndy’s email, I thought of it as providing a good caution. That’s why I used the “Don’t” title. But as you noted, she actually told people the right way. My title is misleading.

    Thanks for the useful feedback!


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