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Writing effective alert messages

Use the following hints and best practices to publish successful alerts.

Content and message

  • Keep the title and body brief and simple.
  • If the alert is an Exercise or Test, clearly put the text “Exercise” or “Test” in the title and message. This practice ensures that everyone responds appropriately and no one mistakenly takes your exercise message for a real-world event.
  • Use the five W’s: who, what, when, where, why, and how if needed.
  • If you use acronyms or unique words, remember that text-to-speech may mispronounce your message or make it hard to understand. Add spaces or periods after each letter of the acronym.
  • If you include a phone number, remember that the text-to-speech reads the number in this order: nation number, regional number, telephone exchange number, subscriber number, and extension number. Phone numbers are read digit by digit. If you include a regional number (area code) in parentheses, text to speech will not read the number correctly. For example: (xxx)-xxx-xxxx. To ensure that text to speech reads the regional number correctly, use one of the following formats:
    • xxx-xxx-xxxx
    • xxx xxx xxxx
    The following table lists supported phone number formats:
    Example phone number
    Text to speech expansion
    1 800 123 4567
    one, eight hundred, one two three, four five six seven
    zero one, one two three four, five six seven eight
    01.1234.5678 Ext. 15
    zero one, one two three four, five six seven eight, extension one five
    Call me at 123-4567
    Call me at one two three, four five six seven
  • Placeholders can be very useful when using alert templates. Don’t forget to select the values if they are included.
  • Use the
    More Info Link
    field to add a web page or Dropbox attachment URL.
  • Include response options. They are a powerful tool to see who has responded to your alert and can provide valuable accountability information from your users.

Devices and coverage

  • Use the devices that will most likely reach your users at the time of the alert.
  • Target your Connect organizations if you want them to receive your alert.
  • When sending a desktop pop-up, ensure that you choose the template and audio that best corresponds to your alert.
  • The Phone is the only device that you can establish a delivery order for. When selecting multiple telephony devices, prioritize the devices your recipients are most likely to use.
  • Use the device options to ensure your message is effectively communicated. For example, some devices have shorter message requirements. Or, a message that goes to the phones of individuals might be different than a message that goes to the general public over a loudspeaker.
  • Use the options for (SMS) text messages to shorten the content to 160 characters or less. If you exceed the 160 characters allocated for the title, body, and response options, your message may be broken into several messages.
  • When you use Twitter, use discretion because the message appears on social media, outside of your user base.

Publishing schedule

  • Alerts can be scheduled to be published at a later date and time.
  • Set the ‘live’ time for the time you want your users to be able to respond to your alert. You can estimate how long that they will receive the message and respond if they are away from their devices.

Review and publish

  • If you have time, always test your messages before sending.
  • Use Alert Folders to organize your alerts.
  • Use spell checking for your Title and Content before publishing.
  • Verify in the Targeting Summary that the correct individuals are receiving your alert.

Preview and publish (for email devices only)

  • Use the Preview and Publish screen to preview how your alert will appear to end users.
  • Use the text editing tools to customize the look and feel of your alert.