For exhibit and event professionals  

How do you prevent “attachment disorder”?

October 1, 2012 By Editor

A VP sent me an email requesting copies of some contract paperwork and copied three other people with access to the information. Each of us sent her the 3MB file, and now she’s irritated because our responses clogged her inbox. If you’re copied on an email, do you wait to see whether you should jump in? Do you set off a flurry of emails to other recipients to determine who’ll answer? What’s your protocol?

— Kendra, Events Coordinator

Put some order in the emails

Kendra, multiple people responding to an email doesn’t only irritate the recipient, it can jam his or her mailbox, as you’ve already discovered. To keep this from happening again, establish a system for handling emails with cc’s.

Our readers offer some pointers:

  • First come,  first serve.
  • Use a network.
  • Try several options to find the best solution.

First come, first serve

Rather than having several email recipients scratching their heads over who’s supposed to answer a message, set a simple ground rule.

Cathi Hoskins, corporate events coordinator at ChemStation International Inc. believes in first in, first out.

“Whoever responds to an email where several people are copied should hit ‘reply all.’ That way, everyone can see who answered first. Problem solved!”

Use a network

Instead of sending out emails with huge attachments, use an alternative way to convey the information.

Debbie Matuszak, marketing and event planner with Chamberlain, describes the method her company has in place.

“We have a shared file set up for our internal sales/marketing staff and outside field sales, and any large documents or photos can be put in it. If a document is confidential, add a password to it or restrict access to certain folders on the shared drive. Instead of sending a large file, just send the link to it.”

Elizabeth Houck, account executive at Freeman, suggests you take the lead in setting up a system.

“Show the boss how organized you are and create a shared drive folder on the network. Attach all the information you feel he or she may need, organized in folders. Then simply send the link. (This can be done with Dropbox as well.)

“Discuss this process with your co-workers and get them on the same page. I use it with a number of colleagues, and we don’t need to make nearly as many requests back and forth to each other.”

Try several options to find the best solution

Although it may not seem like it now, you have a number of alternatives to consider.

E. Jane Lorimer, managing director of Lorimer Consulting Group, provides several choices for you.

“Options: 1. Call or email to ask the VP whom she’s asking to send the file (i.e., one of you or all four). 2. Send an email response to all saying, ‘I’ll forward to you under separate email’ to let others know you’re handling it. If one of the others has sent it, he or she will advise you. 3. Do something ‘old fashioned.’ Pick up the phone and call the other people copied to determine who will send the file!”

Terrie Holahan offers some other possibilities.

“If I’m cc’d on a message, I usually wait to see if the main addressee responds, and I jump in only if I know the addressee can’t make the deadline (the person is on vacation, traveling, etc.). I also send a separate message to the addressee, adding ‘DONE’ or ‘TAKEN CARE OF’ in the subject line before the original subject.

“With large files, try a service like YouSendIt that allows you to upload files to a secure, remote server. Then send the link to the person making the request. It takes a few extra steps on the recipient’s part to retrieve the files, but it’s a nice alternative.

“Or, if the VP tends to copy the same people on requests like this, huddle up with them and work out a strategy beforehand. While we live in the day and age of text messages and email, sometimes a quick phone call keeps the inbox from being bombarded.”


  • A similar scenario happened just the other day when a rep sent over a sample request via email for a dealer. She sent her request to both people in the “to” field which was two different people in two different departments. I wrote back to her being the Trade Show Coordinator and explained to her to please only send your request to one person as to avoid unnecessary duplicate orders in the future. The girl in the other department had already taken care of it. In the case of when an email is being sent and others are cc or bcc the main person the email is being sent to is the person who should respond not the people who are being cc or bcc. If someone want’s me to do something they should put my name in the main send to box. The sender should be specific and shouldn’t leave others to guess. It just wastes time trying to figure out who’s supposed to do what, when and where. If the main person on the email does not have the information then he/she should then go to the other’s that were cc’d and ask to either send it to them or to him/or her so they can do so.

    • Much has been written about email etiquette, but email logistics deserves a turn in the spotlight. Who is the main receipient, whom else should get a copy, when should comments between two recipients become a sidebar without the rest of the team involved. How come email addresses fall off the list after a while? When and how do you update a subject line so it still can be searchable later on? All these considerations go beyond being polite and professional. They are practical considerations we all should have ground rules for.

  • I’d be willing to bet several departments at Kendra’s company are experiencing this same problem with emails. Discussing it with someone high up on the food chain, and providing ways to keep it from happening again, seems like a good idea to me. By doing this, Kendra will show she has initiative and problem-solving skills, and is a real team player — the kind of characteristics bosses look for when it comes to giving someone a raise or even a promotion.

    Do you know other ways Kendra can solve her problem?

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