A Look at Some Preliminary Results of
Evaluating the Census 2000 Integrated Marketing Strategy
Elizabeth Martin and Emilda Rivers
KEY WORDS: census outreach and publicity, public awareness, attitudes, trends, direct mail, trust in confidentiality, mail questionnaire
This paper draws upon two independent sources of data to assess changes in public attitudes and awareness during the 2000 census. The first source was a series of three surveys conducted by NORC for the Census Bureau to evaluate how effectively its promotion and outreach activities increased public awareness and participation in the 2000 census. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in fall 1999, just before census forms were mailed out in March of 2000, and after the census. The second source was a series of five cross-sectional web surveys conducted between late February and mid-April of 2000 by Knowledge Networks in partnership with the Census Bureau.
The paper discusses the differences between these sources of data, including sample and mode differences, and their limitations (both sources had relatively high nonresponse rates). Despite differences in their methods, the two sources produce largely consistent conclusions about overall trends and changes in public awareness and attitudes during the 2000 census. The results suggest that the Census 2000 integrated marketing strategy increased public awareness and knowledge about the census, communicated the key message that the census benefits communities, and exposed most people multiple sources of information about the census, such as TV, radio, organizational activities, news, and print. Direct mail pieces (advance letter, mail questionnaire) communicated the important messages that a census form will arrive by mail and that census participation is required by law, both of which are associated with higher rates of participation.
The results also provide evidence of stability. There is no evidence that direct mail increased public confidence in confidentiality. Attitudes about benefits of the census were already positive and remained so throughout the census. Similarly, in the 1990 census, there was evidence of an increase in public awareness but few changes in attitudes in response to census publicity and outreach.
CITATION: Elizabeth Martin and Emilda Rivers. 2001. “A Look at Some Preliminary Results of Evaluating the Census 2000 Integrated Marketing Strategy” Proceedings of AAPOR (American Statistical Association). 2001.