Communication professor helps evaluate 2010 Census campaign

Dr. Felipe Korzenny
Dr. Felipe Korzenny

A Florida State University professor of Communication was one of five distinguished scholars asked to serve on an independent panel reviewing a key portion of the 2010 Census Integrated Communications Campaign. The panel’s findings were released last week.

Dr. Felipe Korzenny, who also is founder and director of FSU’s Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication, participated in the Academic Assessment Panel’s review of the paid media/advertising portion of the campaign. The campaign’s other segments are earned media/public relations, partnerships, digital outreach/online interaction and a Census in Schools program.

“Clearly, we are privileged to be part of the review of a most important marketing communication effort of the U.S. government for the Census,” Dr. Korzenny said.

An effective communications campaign is crucial to raising awareness and encouraging participation in the 2010 Census. The goal of the Census Bureau is to count each person living in the United States as is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

While offering a  number of recommendations to fine-tune the campaign, the panel  “unanimously applauded the work done to date, especially in light of the enormous obstacles faced in putting together a communication campaign of this magnitude” while dealing with a finite budget and “political and logistical constraints beyond their control.”

It also concluded that the Census Bureau followed “best practices” of both the communications industry and academia in preparing the campaign.

It was the first time the Census Bureau commissioned an objective panel to review its proposed communication campaign before it was launched. Historically, reviews have been conducted after the census was concluded.

“The Academic Assessment Panel’s recommendations have enhanced the 2010 Census Communications Campaign,” said Raul E. Cisneros, the chief of the Census Bureau’s 2010 Census Publicity Office. “Their completely independent and objective review allowed us to look at the work done to date on the campaign with fresh eyes and make improvements and refinements where needed.”

The other members of the panel were Dr. Rajeev Batra, S.S. Kresge professor of marketing at the University of Michigan; Dr. Wendy Moe, associate professor of marketing at the University of Maryland; and Dr. David Stewart, dean of the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Riverside; and Dr. Jerome D. Williams, F.J. Heyne Centennial Professor in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, who chaired the panel. Michael A. Lott of Accretive Insights served as facilitator.

The data collected by the Census guide the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year. Census results also used to determine Congressional apportionment and to help guide planning decisions, such as the placement of schools, hospitals, transportation, and business and industrial development. The 2010 Census questionnaire will be one of the shortest in history, consisting of 10 questions and taking about 10 minutes to complete. Strict laws protect the confidentiality of respondents and the information they provide.