The census is a once-in-a-decade event that affects the distribution of billions of federal funding each year on infrastructure and services like hospitals, schools, senior centers and public works projects based on national responses. With so much at stake, the federal government allocated funding for a national advertising campaign to educate residents about the impact of the 2010 census.
The team analyzed the situational factors surrounding the last two censuses in 1990 and 2000, as well as the response rates (61 and 69 percent, respectively). They also conducted a landscape analysis and retrieved data from the Nevada State Demographer’s Office and the American Community Survey from 2007 and 2008. What the team realized immediately was that Nevadans faced many different factors that previously did not exist, such as economic hardship and the highest foreclosure rate in that nation.
The Ferraro Group met with the client, Nevada Secretary of State (SoS) Ross Miller; team members national PR firm Weber Shandwick, advertising firm Sawyer Miller and Hispanic marketing firm The Axis Agency; and other census partners including Strategic Solutions, contracted by the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition, Nevada Demographer Jeff Hardcastle and U.S. Census Bureau Liaison David Byerman for a six-hour strategic planning session to identify objectives, audiences and challenges. The team identified a timeline of major census events and organized our PR & ad campaign to support these scheduled events and ensure the widest amount of media coverage for maximum impact.
A key strategy toward achieving these goals was to communicate Nevada-specific reasons for participating – what it means to residents of our state to mail back their census forms. The campaign included working with local trusted partners to reach residents with messages that are relevant locally and culturally. It aimed to promote all Nevadans 18+ statewide to participate in the 2010 Census, with particular focus on hard-to-count populations including: minority groups, people who are temporarily displaced due to the foreclosure market and rural communities.
Earned Media – Much of the support during the campaign came in the form of proactive and reactive media relations. This included developing and distributing press releases and advisories, coordinating media interviews for the SoS, drafting press kits and providing on-site support at major campaign events.
-Campaign Kick-off – Beginning with a coordinated northern/southern Nevada campaign rollout on January 21 at the Boys and Girls Club in Reno and Three-Square in Las Vegas, TFG worked closely with the SoS office and local Complete Count Committees to organize press events focused on the importance of census participation to local community service groups and families they serve.
-Ad Campaign Launch Press Conference – TFG organized a press conference unveiling the campaign’s creative component, including outdoor advertisements, on March 3, 2010. For this event, TFG developed electronic press kits that included a detailed press release and copies of all creative elements of the campaign.
– National Census Day Event – TFG organized a two-day press event from March 31-April 1, 2010 in recognition of National Census Day. The two main goals of the event were to 1) continue encouraging people to fill out and send in their census forms, and 2) focus the statewide census participation message in hard to count communities in Washoe and Clark Counties.
Social Media and Digital Outreach – TFG worked with the SoS office to develop an official microsite that served as a one-stop information hub for the 2010 Census in Nevada. Through TFG’s assistance, the microsite provided timely information on the campaign, including the distribution of press releases, resource toolkits for media and our Trusted Voices partners, videos produced by local CCCs and the statewide campaign, and key information from the U.S. Census Bureau. TFG also engaged Nevadans through a Nevada Census 2010 fan page on Facebook and a Nevada Census 2010 YouTube page.
Hispanic Outreach – Each of the campaign’s Hispanic media partners [Telemundo (TV – Las Vegas), Entravision (Univision TV – Las Vegas), Entravision Radio (Reno) and Univision Radio (Las Vegas)] recorded and distributed co-branded Spanish-language PSAs that used our messaging and their most recognized talent to promote awareness of the census.
Reports from local census officials noted that residents returned the 2010 census forms faster than they did in 2000. Nevada was one of the 11 states that matched the 2000 mail-in response rate. Nevada’s response to the 2010 census also qualified the state to have a fourth Congressional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Southern Nevada chapter of the Public Relations Society of America recognized the Nevada Census 2010 campaign in multiple categories during its annual Pinnacle Awards, which recognizes the best public relations programs, tools and professionals in southern Nevada, northern Arizona and southern Utah. An out-of-market judge commented that the Nevada Census 2010 campaign was “outstanding.”