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University Communications

Guidelines and Best Practices for Engaging on Major News and Events

The University of Connecticut will only on rare occasions send leadership mass emails and social media messages about internal and external news and events in the nation and world. Those rare occasions will include external tragedies or sensitive issues that have become dominant challenges in the daily lives of our communities.

For more information, view the university’s Policy on Media and Mass Communication.

Why don’t university leaders send emails every time tragedies or concerns occur in the world?

  • Tragedies or concerns that affect individuals or groups occur with great frequency. A practice of emailing after every major news issue or event is not practical. Selecting some issues or events and not others is exclusionary and lacks consistency.
  • Mass email is a poor vehicle for processing complex and painful topics and university stakeholders have different perspectives about how tragedies and impacts to people should be described. A one-size-fits all message provides one-way communication to thousands of individuals and is a poor replacement for other modes of communication that allow for better engagement for understanding, empathy and support for those impacted. It also can further polarize a community.
  • Mass emails about external tragedies and concerns can be seen as lacking action or sincerity.
  • Frequent messages about tragedies around the world can heighten fears or mental stress. They also can de-sensitize audiences to such messages from leadership.

How will rare messages be sent and by whom?

If a news issue or event does not have a particular direct connection to UConn and a decision is made to send a rare mass email, a joint email or social media message from UConn leadership will be sent. For tragic events or concerns that occur on individual campuses, each university will determine whether mass email is a suitable communications method, or if other options should be considered – such as a story on UConn Today or social media posting.

Decisions and authorization on sending mass communications regarding such subjects ultimately rest with the President and/or the Vice President for Communications.

Here are some criteria considered for identifying those rare cases of issuing a campus-wide message:

  • The news or event has a specific or local connection to a large portion of the university community.
  • The event is in some way preventing a significant part of the university community from engaging in campus activities or is interrupting their daily lives.
  • A series of news or events has created a high level of openly expressed stress among a large percentage of our university community.

What are other ways to support our community?

University leaders at all levels and members of the campus community can help address a great variety of concerns and pain felt by members of our community in more personal ways.

Options after tragic and disturbing events include the following:

  • Listening sessions for those struggling with grief or pain or in need of support.
  • Events that unpack external tragedies, such as panel discussions, information sessions, or opportunities to hear points of view or historical context.
  • Vigils or events that allow those affected by a tragedy to share support and be heard.
  • Information sessions or training about resources available to our community, as well as ways to report incidents of discrimination, bias, or violations of our values, codes of conduct, or the law.
  • Ensuring mental health resources are available and known.
  • Reaching out personally to those affected by a tragedy or event to check on their well-being.