Office of Strategic Communications
Brand Guide


Mass email is a vital tool for keeping students, faculty, staff, and alumni connected. It helps us share updates, deadlines, and events, fostering engagement and a sense of community within our college. Regardless of which email marketing platform you use, we have best practices for building and sending emails to ensure you follow Penn State guidelines and comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.

Email Marketing Platforms

Different email marketing platforms offer a variety of features and tools to help you effectively reach and engage your target audiences. From customizable templates to advanced analytics, these platforms make creating, sending, and tracking email campaigns easier and more efficient for everyone involved.

When utilizing these platforms, it’s important to adhere to best practices such as maintaining a clean and updated email list, personalizing content, tailoring the tone and style for the intended recipients, and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Additionally, regularly monitoring campaign performance and adjusting based on insights can help optimize email marketing efforts to achieve better results.

Remember, any newsletters being sent less frequently than biweekly need to be submitted for University Brand Review (UBR).

If you would like to implement a newsletter for your unit, please

Headshot of Kirsten Smith

to discuss your options and plans.


At the college level, we use Mailchimp to communicate with our current students and alumni. Every Monday, we send our Undergrad Newswire to students with details about upcoming events and deadlines, internship and full-time job postings, and student and alumni spotlights. We also send occasional Undergrad Updates about a specific event or deadline of high importance. We send Leader’s Letters from many of our department heads and program directors to their alumni and donors, as well as a biannual email update from Dean Lang to all Liberal Arts alumni.

Because of our numerous audiences, which include large subsets of current students and alumni, we pay for two account subscriptions—one for alumni and donors and one for undergraduate students. However, if you only have one audience (mailing list) with fewer than 500 total contacts, you can sign up for Mailchimp’s free account. We encourage our units to use Mailchimp because it makes the UBR process easier for both you and us. We’re able to go in and edit your newsletter directly to avoid the back-and-forth email communication involved with listing out all necessary edits for you to make yourself before sending the revised version for final approval.


  • Track open rate, click rate, and link clicks according to a click map
  • Make your emails visual while still being accessible
  • Easily add photos


  • Payment required if you need more than one audience or have more than 500 contacts
  • Sent as a mass email, so no edits can be made once the user has clicked the Send button
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Mailchimp Campaign Overview

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Edit Design

Microsoft Sway


  • Free for Penn State, included with Microsoft Office suite
  • Track total views, average time spent, average completion percentage
  • Analytics breakdown total views into glances, quick reads, and deep reads
  • Make your emails visual while still being accessible
  • Ability to edit content/typos after it’s been shared


  • Doesn’t send the newsletter, so that must be done manually through email
  • Embedded as a visual link to share on social media or in the body of an email
  • Must be viewed through a web browser via a shareable link

Watch our Creating Engaging Newsletters session from the 2021 Liberal Arts All-Comm Summit, which spotlights the features and functionality of Microsoft Sway.

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Penn State Listserv

Learn more about using Penn State Listservs to communicate internally by visiting the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Information Technologies webpage.