We All Count in 2020 Census
By Pam Solomon
Assistant Director of Communications | City of Weston, Florida
Shape Your Future. Start Here. Where? Where do we begin when planning our outreach strategies to promote the 2020 Census in our communities?
For those of us who have worked in local government for more than a decade, it was “In Our Hands” to promote the 2010 census. Now it is our time again to spread the word and motivate our residents to be counted to shape their future.
In 2010 there were outreach methods that clearly worked and ideas that were better left on paper. Whether they were effective or not, it was a learning experience. So now you think, dust off those campaign plans and lessons learned and charge forward. Well, there is one caveat: it is a very different world out there now than it was in 2010.
Over the last 10 years, we have changed – societal attitudes, means of communications, populations, etc. – so we need to ensure that our 2020 campaign evolves to be effective this time around. Let us not be naïve . . . what worked then may not work now.
The bar is set high for our 2020 Census count, which is our biggest challenge. In Weston, Florida, we were fortunate to have achieved an 81 percent mail back response rate in 2010, which followed an 80 percent response rate in 2000. Weston is an affluent master-planned, suburban community (25 square miles) at the western edge of Broward County, bordering the everglades. Our city has a population of more than 67,000 (43.6 percent are foreign born, representing 25 different countries worldwide, 50.9 percent of which are of Hispanic or Latino origin), with a median age of 38.6 and median household income of close to $94,000. Although not considered an underserved community, Weston still counts.
We have taken the usual actions that many of you have already done. We joined the county’s Complete Count Committee, connected with the U.S. Census Bureau’s (USCB) national campaign efforts, created a micro-site on our website (WestonFL.org/Census2020) that is continuously updated with dynamic content and tools for the community to use, and issued a proclamation in honor of Census 2020.
Since we are all in this together (kind of like High School Musical), we thought we would share some materials from our 2020 Census campaign.
Phase I: Campaign Kickoff | July – November 2019
The census is coming! We launched the first phase of our messaging last year at our annual Fourth of July parade, which was themed “The Everyday Hero.” We created a banner and distributed hand fans with the call to action, “Be an Everyday Hero,” alluding that by participating in the Census you will be an everyday hero in our community. Our message evolved to “Be a Hero!” because it was a more simplified message in both languages.
Artwork for PEG channel, banners, etc.
Families loved the hand fans at the parade Census 2020 parade banner
Two-sided bilingual 5x7 card in English and Spanish.
Phase II: Our Vision is Clear. Everyone Counts. | December 2019 – April 2020
As we prepared for the New Year, we saw the opportunity of having a perfect vision in 2020, so our campaign focused on “Our Vision is Clear. Everyone Counts.” The slogan opened an opportunity to include promotional 2020 Census sunglasses as a hook to have conversations about the census everywhere we go.
The messages and resources that we created to use in our communication channels (PEG channel, website, weekly e-newsletter, radio station, social media, utility bills, special events and publications) were also developed for community sharing in mind.
The multiple video PSAs we produced include diverse community members from local artists to physicians to elected officials. Our visual materials include pop-up banners, posters, digital images for web, video bulletin boards and social media and printed cards. We also included a full page in our winter/spring parks guide which was mailed to all households.
Grassroots outreach is essential in developing relationships and changing attitudes. Since we started early, we have been able to recruit and include volunteer Census ambassadors and community influencers to assist in spreading messages in targeted areas. We are continuously speaking at formal and informal gatherings throughout the city, including HOAs, not-for-profit and faith-based organizations, and business groups and maintaining a presence at athletic activities and other community events. We have engaged the assistance of representatives from various ethnic groups within our community to understand how to best message and reach those key audiences to motivate them to fill out their forms.
Tapping into Talent
In the fall we pitched a 2020 Census challenge to a talented pool of young writers and designers who aspire to develop campaigns. These are students enrolled in our local high school’s AICE Media Studies program. Annually, this class works with select local not-for-profit organizations to create a media campaign for their use. We gave them some census background and two different target audiences (ages 18-34 and our culturally diverse community) to select for their campaigns. We recently received extensive plans and materials from four groups to review.
While the jury is still out on which campaign, messages or tactics may be used, this was a great way for students to get involved in the process, become census ambassadors and build their portfolio of work.
Ten years ago, social media messaging was mostly just words on a post. Today you need interactivity and moving digital images to keep the users interested and engaged on the ever-growing platforms.
While we are hashtagging, sharing, liking and posting the national, state and local Census posts and messages, we are creating some local interactive assets too. In addition to just a post with photos or video, we plan to use animated stories, geo-filters and profile frames.
While this is all new to us, it is our hope that these tactics will bring in new and younger census advocates. After all, they will be around for many more Census campaigns in their lifetimes.
Good luck to all as we work towards our common goal to achieve a full Census count in 2020.
Full page display ad in Weston @Play Parks Guide
Video PSAs featuring elected officials and diverse members of the community
Strategically placed banners in Commission Chambers
Instagram / Facebook Story featuring local community members
Draft of animated Snapchat geofilter for event locations
This is all made possible by the collaborative work of our team, which includes fellow 3CMA members, Denise Barrett, Director of Communications and Nannette Rodriguez, of Quest Corporation of America, as well as our talented staff.