NV engages diverse groups for census outreach

Because census participation determines federal funding for many state programs, Nevada secretary of state Ross Miller "felt obligated" to run a campaign promoting participation.

Client: Nevada Secretary of State's office (Carson City, NV)
Agency: The Ferraro Group (Reno, NV)
Campaign: Nevada Census 2010
Duration: mid-December 2009–April 2010
Budget: $100,000 (PR portion)

Because census participation determines federal funding for many state programs, Nevada secretary of state Ross Miller “felt obligated” to run a campaign promoting participation. The Ferraro Group won a competitive pitch for the business.

“In 1990 we had the fifth-lowest response rate,” he says. “In 2000 we improved more than any jurisdiction in the country. We wanted to equal or beat the 2000 results, but we had many more challenges this year.”

Nicole Willis-Grimes, director of public affairs at Ferraro, says challenges included high foreclosure rates, “extreme” homelessness, a population highly distrustful of government, and cultural diversity.

The campaign integrated advertising, PSAs, and PR. Messaging stressed Nevada-specific reasons for participating and that participation was easy, quick, and safe.

The team established a “Trusted Voices” group of 130 leaders from 10 key groups, including business, media, church, school, and nonprofit groups, to communicate on various local levels.

January 21 press events at the Boys and Girls Club in Reno and a food bank in Las Vegas kicked off public outreach. A March 3 press conference supported the ad campaign launch.

Numerous other media and community events, including a March 31 to April 1 press event for National Census Day, continued throughout the campaign. In total, 13 press releases and 11 advisories were issued around events and key census dates.

Miller's office created NevadaCensus2010.com as an information hub for media, “Trusted Voices” leaders, and the public. The agency populated it with press materials, talking points, important dates, localized information, and drop-in articles.

Media partners Univision, Entravision, and Telemundo drove Hispanic outreach by broadcasting co-branded Spanish-language TV and radio PSAs featuring their own talent. “Trusted Voices” leaders recorded radio PSAs for numerous localized audiences.

Paid ads spanned print, broadcast, and out of home. TV ads included a spot featuring local schoolchildren and a spot with Miller and UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) talent aimed at 18- to 30-year-olds. Most print ads targeted Hispanic, Asian, and African-American audiences.

The team also created Facebook (www.facebook.com/nevadacensus2010) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/nevadacensus2010) pages. Posts included answers to questions, the ads, and media coverage.

Willis-Grimes says the Census Bureau reports 69% participation in Nevada, which equals 2000 results. Media impressions totaled more than 4.1 million. YouTube videos garnered nearly 1,800 views, and the Facebook page attracted 1,181 fans.

The agency reported that paid media reached 99% of adults over the age of 18 (average frequency of 18 times) in Reno and Las Vegas.

The Ferraro Group's contract is complete. Miller's office is currently conducting voter participation outreach for the 2010 election and business community outreach around a newly launched business licensing portal.


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