Division A, Category 2
Volusia Counts. Everybody Counts.
Research/Situation Analysis. The U.S. Census Bureau is conducting a census in 2010 to determine the number of people living in the United States. The data will be used to determine how many seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and how more than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed to state and local governments each year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, return rates are historically lower than average for persons living below the poverty level, minorities, renters and migrant workers. These groups were identified as our target audiences. In the 2000 Census, 66 percent of Volusia County residents mailed back their census forms. Of particular concern is Daytona Beach, the county’s second-largest city, which had a 58 percent mail-back rate in 2000. It is crucial that Volusia County increase its response rate so it can receive its fair share of federal funding.
• Recruit 50 community partner organizations that will distribute census materials to their members and citizens.
• Recruit 40 ordinary citizens (teachers, students, retirees, business people, etc.) to serve as models and ambassadors. The models must represent diversity in age, gender and race.
• Solicit at least $20,000 in discounted advertising opportunities and in-kind contributions.
• Send 15 news releases that result in at least 500,000 impressions.
• Increase Volusia County’s census mail-back rate from 66 percent in 2000 to 71 percent in 2010.
• Step one, which began in August 2009, was the recruitment of the county’s 16 municipalities, major businesses and agencies as community partners that agreed to support the campaign by distributing materials and posting information on their web sites. Partners were provided with artwork, fliers, Web copy and newsletter articles.
• In September, staff identified 41 citizens to serve as models and ambassadors. A full-day photo and video shoot was staged using professional photographers and videographers.
• In October, staff contacted media outlets and businesses to solicit advertising discounts and in-kind contributions.
• Seventeen informational news releases were sent between August 2009 and April 2010.
• To increase our participation rate by 8 percentile points, it was critical to establish a major visual presence throughout the county. To lay the groundwork for the campaign, we created a consistent, simple, eye-catching graphic and slogan in August, launched English and Spanish web sites in September, and began creating more than 100 individualized fliers for community partners in October. Major tactics focused on the critical time period of February and March. These tactics included placement of 15 billboards, 15 transit ads, four bus shelter ads and 15 individual print ads in targeted areas and publications throughout the county; development of two 30-second PSAs that were shown in six movie theaters and on two TV stations; placement of signs in 50 libraries and other high-traffic public buildings; mailing of information to the county’s 350 churches and 1,500 homeowners associations and rental communities; development of a speakers bureau; and distribution of materials to the county’s 2,500 employees.
• Target audiences (persons living below the poverty level, minorities, renters, immigrants and migrant workers) were reached by placing outdoor advertising in areas with large numbers of minorities and people living below the poverty level; running ads in print publications that cater to Hispanics and African-Americans; mailing postcards to rental communities; and developing Spanish-language materials that focused on the county’s Hispanic communities. A committee was appointed to reach out to migrant farm workers in northwest Volusia County. Extra support (in the form of individualized artwork, news releases and PR counsel) was provided to Daytona Beach, which has a large hard-to-reach population.
Evaluation. Each objective was met or exceeded.
• Sixty community partners were recruited, including all 16 municipalities, the United Way; Daytona International Speedway, five major colleges and universities; and all six chambers of commerce.
• Forty-one county residents agreed to be census models.
• More than $24,000 in discounted advertising opportunities and in-kind contributions was solicited.
• Seventeen news releases were distributed, garnering more than 650,000 impressions.
• The county’s mail-back rate increased from 66 percent in 2000 to 73 percent by April 27, 2010. The total response rate is expected to increase by 5 percent after the Census Bureau’s door-to-door campaign is completed in July.
Budget. The Volusia County Council allocated $75,000 to the census awareness campaign. Major expenses included $17,630 for billboards, $15,306 for print advertising, $9,976 for transit advertising, $5,917 for printed materials, $4,980 for television advertising, $4,122 for movie theater advertising, $2,560 for bus shelter advertising, $2,000 for postage, $1,703 for signs, $1,610 for novelty items, and $80 for Web site domains. Expenses totaled $66,884. Hours worked by the county’s marketing specialist, community outreach manager, graphic designer, webmaster, photographer and videographer totaled 500 hours, or approximately $10,000.