Us Census Bureau Promo, Case study 2010 CENSUS by Weber Shandwick New York

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Industry Government & Other Authorities
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Weber Shandwick New York
Account Supervisor Jenny Kramer, Katie Fitzpatrick, Jill Lewis
Released September 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Best Integrated Campaign Led by PR
Advertiser: U.S. CENSUS BUREAU
Vice President: Brooke Worden (Weber Shandwick)
Executive Vice President: Randy Sands (Weber Shandwick)
Marketing & Business Development Director: Leah Kondes (Weber Shandwick)
Account Supervisor: Jenny Kramer (Weber Shandwick)
Account Supervisor: Katie Fitzpatrick (Weber Shandwick)
Account Supervisor: Jill Lewis (Weber Shandwick)
Senior Account Executive: Mary Westin (Weber Shandwick)
Intern: Allison Moore (Weber Shandwick)
Corporate Communications Manager: Jill Surdyka (Weber Shandwick)
Interactive/Print Project Manager: Emily Norine (Weber Shandwick)
Marketing Communications Executive EMEA: Hannah Jones (Weber Shandwick)
Media placement: Census Mission Pitch - PBS News Hour - March 2010
Media placement: Census in Schools Pitch - American Teacher - January - March 2010
Media placement: Census Road Tour Pitch - TODAY, Associated Press, The Miami Herald - January - March 2010
Media placement: Census on Campus/Language Assistance Centers Pitch - USA Today - March 2010
Media placement: Census 101 Pitch - Parenting - March 2010
Media placement: Take 10 Challenge Census Pitch - TIME, Better Homes and Garden’s, Ladies Home Journal, Family Circle - February - March 2010

Summary of the Campaign
Every decade, the U.S. Census Bureau has the monumental task of counting every person living in the United States and its territories. The U.S. government relies on a complete and accurate count to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds and uses census data to draw new districts for congressional representation. The Census Bureau needed to educate U.S. residents about the value and importance of the 2010 Census, build awareness that it was coming and motivate people to return the form. The implication was substantial — for every 1 percent of residents who mail back their forms, taxpayers save $85 million in census follow-up costs. The Census Bureau tapped its communications agencies to create its first-ever integrated campaign, which encompassed traditional and social media outreach, partnerships with national and local organizations, digital engagement, events and sponsorships, a road tour, and crisis and issues management. The 2010 Census has been regarded as an overwhelming success—through the help of its PR agency, the Bureau achieved a 74 percent mail-back response rate, exceeding the projected response rate of 64 percent and the 2000 Census response rate of 72 percent.

The Situation
Expectations were lower for the 2010 Census than in 2000, a year marked with economic prosperity and a presidential campaign. In 2010, the country was weathering a recession, housing dislocation and declining civic engagement were prevalent, and the population was increasingly diverse and distrustful of the government. However, with the allocation of more than $440 billion in federal funds and congressional redistricting dependent on an accurate count, it was critical to reach all 308 million people in the United States.

The Goal
With an audience of every individual living in the United States and its territories, the Census Bureau, together with its PR agency, used the exhaustive advance research to develop a public messaging platform that would overcome attitudinal, cultural, linguistic and other barriers. This platform informed the following objectives:

• Motivate the public to fill out and return the census form before costly door-to-door follow-up
• Increase outreach to people who were unfamiliar with the census
• Increase overall awareness through census messaging

The Strategy
In an effort to craft the most effective and informed campaign communications possible, research was incorporated at every stage of communications development, including focus groups with diverse audiences, surveys and one-on-one interviews, regional site visits and input from advisory committees. These studies consistently showed that messages that increased knowledge of the benefits of filling out the census form would improve motivation and favourability toward census participation. To meet or exceed the 2000 response rate of 72 percent, the Census Bureau needed to generate broad awareness and demystify common misconceptions about the form’s length and data privacy, while reinforcing key messages of ease, confidentiality and importance. By positioning the 2010 Census as the voice of the people living in the United States, rather than the voice of the government, the Census Bureau aimed to give the 2010 Census new relevance and importance that previous counts were never able to achieve.


The campaign came to a crescendo in March and April with a flurry of marketing programs:
• Extensive media outreach targeting top-tier outlets as well as local and ethnic newspapers
• Partnerships with corporate, civic, faith-based and grassroots organizations to extend key message reach and serve as trusted voices
• Promotional materials to help partners educate diverse audiences, members and groups
• Social media outreach, including the Census Bureau Director’s blog
• A 13-vehicle nationwide road tour to reach hard-to-count populations
• Media training and tools for 140,000 communications specialists
• Crisis and issues management
• Sponsorship of a vehicle to reach NASCAR’s 80-million-strong audience
• Hard-to-reach college student engagement through the Public Relations Student Society of America Bateman competition

Outreach focused on the mailing of census forms and celebration of National Census Day (April 1). In May, communications shifted to follow-up with populations that had not returned their forms.

Documented Results
The Census Bureau achieved a 74 percent mail-back response rate – far exceeding the projected response rate of 64 percent – in light of many economic and social obstacles. Surpassing even the 2000 response rate, the 2010 Census results saved taxpayers $1.6 billion, which was returned to Congress as operational savings. Nearly 260,000 partnering organizations generated goodwill toward the census. Public relations helped the Census Bureau earn nearly 100,000 stories for a total of 2.8 billion media impressions. The agency developed more than 280 educational materials in 28 languages to help partners reach 35 ethnic groups, distributing 60 million copies. The road tour directly engaged 1.7 million people through 1,005 events, garnered 217 million media impressions and travelled more than 162,000 miles. The 2010 Census was an outstanding success, underpinned by an integrated communications campaign that effectively reached a diverse American population.