Text Message Guidelines

These guidelines apply to personnel acting in an official role on behalf of the University of Missouri when using SMS (text) messaging as a university communications tool. Texting is defined as the sending of short alphanumeric or multimedia messages between cell phones, pagers or other hand-held devices on a wireless mobile network. These guidelines are designed for two purposes:

  1. To clarify who is authorized to send text messages on behalf of the university
  2. To establish acceptable use for text messaging by the authorized personnel

The MU News Bureau and MUPD are the only entities authorized to send university emergency information via text messages to university faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders, such as families, visitors, etc. This communication, called MU Alert, is separate and apart from these guidelines and is governed by the university’s emergency management and crisis communication plans. See MU Alert FAQ.


Authorized Personnel

Mizzou departments and programs outside JOSCM (Joint Office of Strategic Communication and Marketing) who wish to use text messaging to communicate with prospective students, students, faculty, staff, families, alumni, donors, or other stakeholders, must submit a proposal summarizing the use case. The proposal should include:

  • The responsible communicator (communications lead for the area)
  • The message sender (if not the communicator, who is sending the message)
  • the intended audience(s),
  • the data source for contact information,
  • a description of the proposed communication, including final approval for messages
  • how the communication supports strategic goals
  • is it one-time or ongoing?
  • plan for managing replies and/or questions
  • plan for managing list opt-ins and opt-outs, including the potential effect on other lists

The proposal process will be used to ensure collaboration and integration with existing processes in place for specific audiences. Specifically, proposals will be reviewed and approved in the context of existing communication plans by the directors below.

  • Donors/Alumni: Director, Alumni and Donor Communications and Marketing
  • Faculty/Staff: Director of Internal Communications
  • Prospective Students/Students/Families: Director of Student Communications

Please submit proposals using this request form.

The Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communication, or their designee, has ultimate authority regarding the use of text messaging and message contents


Acceptable Use by Authorized Communications Personnel

 Text messages should be used to supplement existing channels when a specific, direct, timely communication is needed. Examples include:

  • faculty text to enrolled students related to a course
  • the registrar to defined, specific student populations for required actions
  • Parking and Transportation to students in assigned lots
  • Financial Aid to students with important reminders
  • Residential Life to residents related to maintenance
  • Student Health appointment check-ins to specific users

Departments and programs with an approved text messaging plan should comply with the following guidelines:

  • Use a university-approved text message platform/vendor. At this time, only Twilio is available and requires IT and fiscal approval to set up.
  • Text messages must not disclose any information protected by FERPA, HIPAA or any personally identifying information. Some specific use cases/solutions are already in place and compliant.
  • Text messages must not be the only form of communication for messages relating to employment, academic progress, status, requirements, or actions.
  • Text messages must not be used for general information for large populations (Fall classes start Monday! Come to the career fair!).
  • Text messages must identify the sender, conform to Mizzou brand standards and include a specific call to action (check your email, make an appointment, give now, etc.).
  • Information within the message must be directly relevant to each person and their required or desired action.
  • Message must be sent with adequate time for the desired response.
  • Messages should be sent during regular business hours (8 a.m. – 5 p.m., M-F) when possible; some messages to students or other audiences can be optimized based on specific circumstances, audience-specific open rates or calls to action.
  • Replies should be addressed as soon as possible, no later than within 24 hours.