Email Etiquette: A Considerate Use of Bcc

Blind carbon copy (bcc) in emails is one of those dangerous features that has significant potential to cause harm when used inappropriately, either by intention or by accident. There are actually not many good usage patterns for bcc, but one that is definitely good and quite under-utilised is its use in politely letting a person off an email chain after he/she initiated a conversation.

Here’s an example.

From: CEO
To: CMO, CEO@BrilliantAdvertising.com
Subject: A new marketing campaign
Message:
Lindsay, I would like to introduce you to Michelle, CEO at Brilliant Advertising, who did a fantastic job for me at my last company. Can you two chat and give me some ideas on how to revive our loyalty card marketing campaign?

Now, the bad way for the CMO to respond is to reply-all, potentially dragging the CEO into a 15-messages email chain covering minute details that the CEO probably doesn’t have time to digest.

Here’s a better way for the CMO to respond:

From: CMO
To: CEO@BrilliantAdvertising.com
Bcc: CEO
Subject: Re: A new marketing campagin
Message:
Thanks for the intro, Mike. Putting you on bcc so Michelle and I can talk and come back to you with some concrete ideas. Michelle, pleased to meet you. Let me send through some material and we can go from there. …..

Now the CEO is off the hook but he knows the CMO has acted on his request, and he can expect some concrete things back in a couple of weeks and he can go put out some other fire.

In a world where managers complain incessantly about receiving too many emails, a few simple email best practices can cut down 50% of the crap they receive in their inboxes.


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