Student public relations team promotes 2010 census

In Campus News, News
Members of the Bateman team working with census bureau members. Sitting from left to right are: Lady McDesmond, census representative, Bulmaro Rivera (Partnership Asst. of Orange County census team), Jonathan Barba, Blanaca Nunez and Molly Smith. Photo courtesy of Molly Smith/For the Daily Titan

All it takes is 10 minutes or less to fill out a form, and every person that does it gets $3,000 for the city they live in.

That is the message that five students will launch for a public relations campaign around Feb. 1. They have dedicated increasing amounts of time since last November on a campaign to promote the 2010 Census.

These five students make up the Bateman team. The members include Molly Smith, Lady McDesmond, Jason Camarillo, Blanca Nunez and Jonny Barba. They are competing in the Bateman National competition. In order to make the cut they had to be in the PRSSA club (Public Relations Student Society of America) and qualify in numerous areas.

Every team competing in this national competition is given a client that they must create and execute a campaign for. If they are selected for the top three they will be flown to Washington DC for a presentation and final judging by the very clients for whom they worked.

“This is a great opportunity for us to distinguish our communications program at CSUF,” McDesmond said.

The campaign will end on February 28, and in that span of time all of the planning, analyzing, figuring and dedication will be put into effect not only on campus, but in the surrounding communities.

“As part of the campaign, we contacted the census in our area and they gave us three HTC (hard to count) areas. In Fullerton they gave us the areas right behind our campus, those apartments, and they gave us CSUF, of course. And one more HTC area in La Habra,” Dean Kazoleas, the advisor to the Bateman team said, who has had two teams in the past reach the top three, the last one being in 2007 and finishing in second.

There are many difficulties when trying to count these hard to track areas, Kazoleas explained. However, in order to dispel the myths that surround the census, the bureau states clearly that no personal information by law can be shared with any federal agency or law enforcement. Everything is confidential, according to a 2010 census brochure.

Results of these myths are evident in areas such as La Habra, which has a big Spanish speaking population. And the problem there is that many people are actually afraid. They are afraid of the government. Some may be illegal, some are legal but they are afraid that if they answer the census immigration is going to come in,” said Kazoleas.

The project has occupied the time of these five teammates the majority of Fall semester and will continue to do so this Spring. The judges in the competition will be looking for the following in a winning team:

  1. Did they conduct the research/segmentation the client asked for?
  2. Was the planning not only strategic but creative?
  3. Was there an impact, did they raise awareness, did they persuade the public on the importance of the census and show the public it was safe to trust the bureau?

To accomplish all of this, the team puts in up to 50-70 hours per week.

When asked about the experience of being on the team and having to build their own campaign from the ground up, Smith and Camarillo commented on what a good learning experience it is.

“You learn to look at things in a multifaceted way. It’s been very positive and rewarding,” Smith said.

The team is working to localize the message by stressing that “the census is easy to fill out, taking only a few minutes. When students fill it out, that counts for CSUF and brings financial aid to the campus and helps with budget cuts,” Camarillo said. Smith added that when the people of Fullerton take the time to fill out a form, the money received will go to hospitals, transportation, and the community at large.

During the span of their campaign, the team will be branching out into the areas designated to them by setting up information tables, going door to door, and having a rock the census week on campus to attract students.

“I can tell you this as a professor, I have seen nothing else that is as effective in teaching the students how to do a real world campaign than Bateman. You have to implement the campaign on the ground,” said Kazoleas.

The CSUF Bateman team can be seen on Facebook.com – search for CSUF Census – and their Twitter account, www.twitter.com/csufcensus.

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