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2020 Census Integrated Communications Plan

Component ID: #ti1898875211

The Census Bureau has produced this first draft of the 2020 Census Integrated Communications Plan (v1.0) to identify the path forward for future communications‐related efforts. It lays out the foundational steps to develop a comprehensive communications campaign and provides a high‐level overview of anticipated communications strategies. The activities and strategies described within this draft are intended to reflect the planned and potential efforts of the Census Bureau as an agency; distinctions among internal Census Bureau teams and contractor roles and responsibilities will be detailed in future iterations of the plan.

This draft sets the foundation that will guide the development of a final research‐based, data‐driven integrated communications and partnership plan for the 2020 Census and the identification of campaign audiences, themes, and messaging. Future iterations of the plan (v2.0 to be produced in summer 2018 and v3.0 in summer 2019) will be augmented with findings from yet‐to‐be completed campaign research, and they will provide greater detail as 2020 approaches. This initial draft is designed to achieve three main objectives:

  1. Detail the Research‐and Data‐Based Approach: A successful campaign must be based on a solid foundation of research and have strong internal systems for collecting and analyzing data to optimize performance. This draft provides an approach to using research findings and data to influence the strategy and roadmap for the 2020 Census campaign.
  2. Highlight Key Outreach Priorities: Even in the earliest stages of planning, it is expected that the key outreach areas identified and described in this draft (e.g., partnerships and traditional advertising) will be vital parts of the campaign to reach and count all individuals living in the United States. Proposed approaches, justifications, and high-level strategies for their use are discussed as they relate to reaching audiences, particularly hard‐to‐count (HTC) groups.
  3. Describe Integration With Partners and Stakeholders: Robust coordination with partners and external stakeholders will be crucial in executing a successful campaign. This draft provides a starting point for fostering the ideas of and collecting feedback from those in a position to offer guidance and assistance in reaching audiences.

This draft is an opportunity for the Census Bureau to share ideas and plans for 2020 Census communications a year earlier in the timeline than has been done for previous censuses. By sharing these ideas, we aim to collect more input and feedback on our approach from stakeholders than was possible during previous decennial cycles—also allowing us to identify those outlets, messages, and trusted voices that are key to engaging HTC populations earlier in the enumeration process. This draft has been reviewed extensively by internal stakeholders and subject matter experts across the Census Bureau.

A key first step in the Census Bureau’s proposed approach is to conduct research to better inform our planning as we determine final strategies for promoting the 2020 Census and developing the campaign theme to be used. Each element of this draft will be further developed and adjusted as research findings and feedback become available. We anticipate significant updates to the plan upon the completion of campaign research—a key output of which will be a more detailed and nuanced understanding of key audiences. The development of a campaign theme, messaging, and creative development and testing will also contribute to a more robust plan in future iterations. In addition, we will implement periodic refinements to account for changes in the public mindset and discourse, new communications or technology opportunities or parameters, and input from internal and external stakeholders. We also anticipate updates to the plan before finalizing the execution of each campaign component.

It is important to note that activities outlined in this plan are dependent on available budget, and that this plan is scalable to fit available resources. Activities may be added, removed, or adjusted throughout the coming stages of plan development to accommodate various funding scenarios that may emerge.

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