Email Tips: CC, BCC, and Reply All

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Emailing is simple enough, but there is a lot about this great service that can seem to fall by the wayside, as its professional potential is sometimes taken for granted.

Most noticeably, some email users often ignore using CC, BCC, and “reply all” functionality with email. That or users don’t understand their purpose. It is generally frowned upon to regularly send out emails with long CC or BCC lists… especially for regular newsletters or other related mass-marketing/contact purposes. If you send an email out through Outlook or Gmail with a massive list of recipients in the “to” or CC line, the recipient will have to scroll down the massive list before they reach the content of the email.

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Using An Online Email Marketing Service

To send out your regularly published church newsletter, use an online service. The Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) utilizes iContact for its weekly e-newsletter needs. BCM also puts iContact to use for sending out bulletin inserts and other content or notices. The service, which is free to qualifying NC-based non-profits, includes easy-to-use “drag and drop” design templates. There are plenty of other services, paid and unpaid… Mail Chimp and Constant Contact being two of the most recognizable brands. As Church Marketing Sucks points out, Mail Chimp’s service is free to use if you send under five thousand emails per month.

What are CC and BCC?

CC, BCC stand for carbon copy and blind carbon copy, respectively. The terms carry over from their use in letters prior to computers and email. Quora user Andrew Hennigan, who teaches workshops on email, writes, “[BCC] comes from the time when letters were written on a typewriter and extra copies were made using carbon paper. You would put in the typewriter one sheet of paper for each person with sheets of carbon paper between them. In the original sense it meant a person who was to receive a carbon copy of a letter but without being visible in the distribution list.”

Diffen defines each of the address lines of an email as such:

  • To: field recipients are the audience of the message
  • CC: field recipients are others whom the author wishes to publicly inform of the message (carbon copy)
  • BCC: field recipients are those who being discreetly or surreptitiously informed of the communication and cannot be seen by any of the other addressees

When composing an email, the “to” line is reserved for the individuals the message is directed towards. Those in this line can see who sent the email, who all else is in the “to” line, and who all received a carbon copy. The CC line is for those for whom the message is relevant but not directed at or addressed to. Anyone in the CC line can see who the sender is, who is in the “to” line, and who else received a carbon copy.

The BCC line is for those whom the sender wants to have a copy of the message, but without the individual(s) the message is intended for, or those in the CC line knowing about these recipients. Those in the BCC line can see who the sender is, who is in the “to” line, who is in the CC line, but cannot see who all else received a blind carbon copy. The only individual who can see who received a blind carbon copy is the sender. This can be double-checked by the sender by viewing the sent message in the outbox.

“Reply All” and Privacy

“Reply all” is pretty straightforward, however it needs to be clear, especially as to how it pertains to BCC within emails. When you receive an email, you can respond just to the sender (“reply”) or you can respond to the sender and all of the other recipients of the message (“reply all”). If your response is relevant to all recipients, always reply to all, if your email address is included in the “to” or CC fields.

BCC recipients will not receive any replies to the original email as outlined by University of Pittsburgh’s Information Technology. However, a BCC recipient can reveal their presence to other recipients should they reply all, rather than just replying to the original sender.

Dave Johnson writes for CBS News’ Money Watch that blind carbon copy recipients should always take the designation seriously and should “never violate the trust… never, ever reply-all to a message for which you are in the BCC line.” If you’re worried about this, Johnson suggests it is best to just send the message separately to the would-be BCC recipient, especially if the subject concerns bad news. Lastly, how do you tell if you’re a BCC recipient? If your email address is not in the “to” or CC line, you have been blind carbon copied.

Email may seem outdated in the social media era, but while it is still used in professional settings, it helps to know as much as you can about how to use it effectively. Knowing basic functionalities like CC, BCC, and “reply all” is good place to start.

Sources 

“Bcc vs Cc.” Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 26 Jun 2016.

Hendricks, Kevin D. “Church Email Marketing Tips.” Church Marketing Sucks. Center for Church     Communication, 27 May 2015. Web. 27 June 2016.

Johnnson, Dave. “4 Things You Need to Know about Email’s BCC Field.”CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 30 Mar. 2012. Web. 27 June 2016.

“Using the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) Feature to Protect the Privacy of Email Addresses.” Information Technology. University of Pittsburgh, n.d. Web. 27 June 2016.

“What Are CC and BCC in Gmail? How Do I Use Them?” Quora. Quora, n.d. Web. 27 June 2016.

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Questions? Or need assistance with your church’s communications and social media efforts? Contact Andrew David Cox at acox(AT)mcsp.org or call (336) 722-8126 Ext. 404

Andrew David Cox is the Communications Project Manager for the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM)

 

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