Client: Census 2001
PR Team: Bell Pottinger PR and the Office for National Statistics
in-house PR team
Campaign: Recruitment campaign for 69,000 enumerators
Timescale: December2000 - March 2001
In October 2000, Bell Pottinger was appointed by the Office of National
Statistics (ONS) to support its campaign to recruit 69,000 enumerators
for the decennial National Census - Britain's largest-ever peace-time
Although the Census itself has benefited from extensive advertising, PR
was the main vehicle for enumerator recruitment. Key messages were that
jobs were up for grabs, application methods (e.g. hotline and via
employment centres) and, more generally, that Census Day was coming on
The overall aim was to sign up 69,000 emumerators and to raise awareness
of Census 2001 among at least 90 per cent of households. A target was
therefore set of more than 300 items of media coverage.
Strategy and Plan
The national launch photocall was held on 9 January at Jubilee Gardens
on London's South Bank. To facilitate interviews, a boat was hired to
visit national media houses based along the Thames.
Ten-foot pink balloons in the shape of the Census's hand (as in 'hand in
your form') were branded with the Census logo. Branded clothes were
produced for promotional 'hit squads', along with pink sponge hands and
the hotline number.
The national launch was attended by key Census staff, including Census
director Graham Jones and Census recruitment manager Pat Mann.
Bell Pottinger handled photocalls and awareness work in nine London
boroughs and 13 provincial cities - selected as key areas for
recruitment focus by ONS - were held during the next 17 days, in
conjunction with a publication house in each area. Other local media
were issued with photos the next day. Work in three Welsh cities was
handled by sister company Good Relations.
Measurement and Evaluation
Considerable media interest was gained in the national launch, with
attendance from photographers (e.g. FT, The Daily Telegraph, picture
agencies) and TV (e.g. BBC, ITN, Sky News). From BBC Newsroom South East
and Sky News at lunchtime to ITN News throughout the day, the launch
photocall was a success.
As the recruitment campaign drew to a close, there had been more than
300 items of print coverage with ten per cent accompanied by visuals
(usually in colour).
Although broadcast coverage has not yet been evaluated, 30-plus pieces
of radio and TV coverage were achieved during the recruitment
Key messages were carried accurately by most media. The ONS reports that
more than 250,000 calls were made to the hotline number by the end of
January (enquiries made via the website are not known).
After the national launch, the campaign carried out by Bell Pottinger
was structured in short bursts in each area with the continuity of
recruitment thereafter down to the Census's regional staff and
Whether the momentum of a few hours in each location eventually
translated into recruitment is difficult to tell. However, 69,000
enumerators were successfully recruited nationwide.
Bell Pottinger was subsequently chosen for other Census remits, all
aimed at raising awareness before 29 April. Work included the full
Census launch featuring TV chef Ainsley Harriot and (successfully)
encouraging The Sun to run its 'National Sunsus'.