The Scariest Act in Online Communications

If you’ve ever worked as an online communicator, you’ve probably felt the fear — the knowledge once I push this button, there is absolutely no turning back.

I’m talking about sending mass email of course, which is the single scariest act in the world of digital communications, advocacy and politics. Why? Because once you tell the system to send a mass message, it’s gone…and there’s usually absolutely nothing you can do to get it back.

Why is that so scary? Because you probably made a mistake. Maybe it’s trivial — just a typo — or something more annoying, like using “Dear {insert supporter name here}” as the introduction or “Insert Subject” as the subject line. But an error CAN be flat-out fatal, too, at least for the action at hand. My own worst example? I once sent an action alert to an organization’s supporters in Arizona, asking them to send comments to an agency about a proposed forest-management regulation. The problem was that I’d accidentally set the action up in such a way that you could only take it if you lived in the District of Columbia…and since I’d tested it with my own address, I thought it worked fine! Then the confused emails from our Arizona folks started coming in….

Other common mistakes: linking to the wrong action or page, using a link that doesn’t work at all, mangled message formatting, orphans from the editing process, and of course the typos. No matter how often you test the message on different platforms, ask colleagues to read it One More Time or click those links gain to confirm that they work, the fear never really goes away. Tweets you can delete, Facebook posts and blog articles you can edit or delete, but once it’s sent, that email is out of your hands…for better or worse. So, online communicators: have fun pushing the button! I always do…


Written by
Colin Delany
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