Case Critique 2: iCount Campaign
Tasked by U.S. Census Bureau, an ‘iCount’ campaign was created for the community of Athens, Ga. to ensure that all population demographics were aware and participatory in the 2010 U.S. Census. The campaign focused on three target audiences within the Athens, Ga. community; UGA students, Athens’ Latino population, African-American, and the Asian-American and Caucasian (non-student) populations as secondary audiences.
The goal of the campaign was to create awareness and understanding of the local importance of participating in the census. The campaign used a focused question “is your silence worth $1,697.00?” to create awareness of the significance of the census in Georgia and give the campaign a localized structure.
The research for this campaign had a lot of secondary research from the previously conducted campaigns (averaging $133 million worth) and research from the national U.S. Census Bureau statistics and research. Formal research was implemented by “pre- and post-campaign bilingual survey was deployed using probability-stratified sampling, with the population parameters of Athens, Ga., citizen or UGA student serving as the strata” (PRSA, iCount campaign).
Through this extensive formal research, the campaign was able to identify the three demographic target audiences for the campaign, as “the research shaped the entire campaign, including messaging” (PRSA, iCount campaign). The three key demographics that were discovered through research gave the campaign the advantage to speak directly to those publics and target the populations that were the least knowledgeable and participatory of the Athens, Ga. population prior to 2010.
The iCount campaign also conducted bilingual surveys and focus groups within the targeted audiences to gain a greater understanding of the barriers preventing participation in the census. Research for this campaign was extremely influential and informative to the strategic plan, and resulted in a clear understanding of the community and targeted demographics within Athens.
Objectives and Strategies
There were three target audiences for this campaign. These audiences were chosen based on the previously conducted secondary and primary research of the least participatory demographic populations in Athens, Ga. These target audiences were determined to be “UGA students, who were around 11 years old during the last count and may not realize that they should complete the U.S. Census in Athens; Athens’ Latino population, one of the faster growing communities in Athens (bilingual
materials created for this group); African-American, Asian-American and Caucasian (non-student) populations were secondary audiences because research revealed they are not a difficult population to
reach in Athens, Ga.” (PRSA, iCount campaign). Based on these strategically targeted audiences, objectives were created to most effectively impact those specific groups.
There were four main objectives implemented for each target group to address the lack of U.S. Census participation within those groups. The first objective was to increase the knowledge and awareness of the U.S. Census within each Athens’ targeted demographics. The second was to increase support of the U.S. Census and the benefits that participating can bring to a community. The third objective was to increase the intent of participating in the U.S. Census within the three target audiences to encourage participation. Finally, collaborating and participating with local Athens organizations, iCount simplify the access to local and national resources of the U.S. Census to make participation more relevant and impactful.
Each objective was measureable by the U.S. Census through measuring visits to their website, participants and attendees of local events, and finally by determining the overall participation increase at the end of the 2010 census. All the objectives strategies were localized and persuasive through the self-interest and individual impact the campaign advocated. Using the motto “Is your silence worth $1,697.00?” gave the target audiences a measureable, statistical understanding of their individual impact and localized the campaign to focus extensively on the population of Athens, Ga.
The clear, localized, and informative strategies used in this campaign to create awareness and build a relationship between those audiences and the U.S. Census contained messages that clearly conveyed the purpose and importance of the U.S. Census to all communities nation-wide, but specifically Athens, Ga.
The strategic tactics used in this campaign were effective because of their specificity to each targeted demographic. The iCount campaign held four major events in the Athens, Ga. during their implementation period from Feb. 1 – 28, 2010 that targeted UGA students on campus, a predominantly Latino community area, and the general public of Athens. Each event encouraged the participants to complete an ‘iCount’ note card to later be used as a personalized advertisement for iCount.
Throughout all four events, “more than 3,500 Athenians and students pledged to complete their Census forms this March. Pledge participants received a sticker stating “I’m worth $1,697.00!” and received the “iCount discount” at six local businesses during iCount week (Feb. 15-19)” (PRSA, iCount campaign).
Other event campaigns were significant in the influence of participation in Athens, such as an iCount banner and video competition in the Greek Life of UGA, along with the iCount teams’ creation of an interactive website, a Facebook fan page, and Twitter to promote the iCount campaign. Other UGA interracial and Latino groups also were involved in event promotion and participation on UGA campus.
For each target audience and environment, the iCount campaign excelled at appropriately communicating to each demographic. The message of the campaign was clearly received by the targeted publics because they were strategically planned for each specific group and localized to the overall population of Athens, Ga.
One of the most creative and successful communication methods the iCount campaign implemented was taking all of the iCount note cards collected at the various specified events and created a banner that spelled out “iCount” that was hung in a “traffic-heavy location of downtown Athens, with the potential to reach nearly 60,000 Athenians” (PRSA, iCount campaign). The implementation of this banner was a strategic reinforcement tactic was personalized to the residents of Athens through the influences and commitment of fellow local residents.
Overall, the iCount campaign was successful because of its personalization and localized approach to the Athens, Ga. population. All the objective goals of the iCount campaign were exceeded.
“Awareness of the U.S. Census in Athens, Ga. rose 12% in just one month, and knowledge increased by 5%, the campaign received commitment from nearly 3,500 individuals, iCount personally educated nearly 80,000 individuals about the U.S. Census and the campaign reached more than 700,000 people” (PRSA, iCount campaign evaluation).
The pre-/post-campaign survey results also reinforced the success and outreach of the campaign to successfully convey the message that every individual contributes $1,697.00 to the community through participating in the census and that every individual in Athens, Ga. counts.
“The real success, however, was measured after the Census was tallied and we discovered our community was indeed properly counted” (PRSA, iCount campaign). The campaign utilized resources and community involvement and had an overall successful influence on the U.S. Census accountability for the community of Athens, Ga. The campaign will have predominantly short-term effects measured through the complete participation and accountability of the Athens, Ga. population in the 2010 census, with hope for long-term effects through the education of the importance of the census for the future.