To “to” or to “cc”? The question can be sticky, yet take a minute to think about if before you hit send on your next email. Be sure to address with intent! Here are some basic guidelines you might want to follow:
Be discerning with your use of “to” With multiple parties in this field, it can be unclear who has the action. Designate “to” for those tasked with responding, understanding that it could be multiple people. When forced to consciously think about what they are asking for, and from whom, PR pros can more effectively craft email to elicit the desired response.
Understand recipient expectations Normally, when you are cc: ing someone, you just want them to know what’s going on without the expectation that they will respond or involve themselves in the “conversation.” A real-world PR example might be sending an interview request to a client and cc-ing his or her supervisor so they can be aware of the accomplishment. This approach keeps all parties in the loop, giving no one the ability to plead ignorance on a project or directive. It’s far from universally popular, though, as some would say it clutters up inboxes.
Copying and the chain of command In addition to the “straightforward” informational use of the “cc” there are more nuanced uses such as to a supervisor to show the initial recipient that said recipient had better treat the missive with high importance. However, this can be misconstrued by the recipient as a lack of trust on the sender’s part — a kind of “tattle-tale” ethos at work. Proceed with caution here to make sure you achieve the desired effect. Judicious use of the “cc” can work in reverse as well. Those who unexpectedly find themselves cc’d on a memo detailing some office initiative thought to be “above their pay grade” will feel justly included by this online “pat on the back.”
When to “bcc” Used to copy others without the originally intended knowing about it, this is tricky and can definitely backfire if you don’t know all the recipients well. Our best counsel for “bcc” is to use when you want to do a mass email and wish to keep all the recipients “anonymous.”
Messages of a delicate nature For certain messages, email just isn’t the right vehicle. If you’re struggling with who really has to know something, skip it altogether and try the quaint approach of picking up the phone or wandering over to their desk and talking it out.
Any email anecdotes or advice you’d like to share?