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Making It Count

 

On April 1, the U.S. pauses for a snapshot – the 2010 census.

For most college students, this will be their first time to complete the questionnaire, says Jamienne Scott, a senior communication arts major from Columbus Grove, Ohio, and member of one of two ONU teams helping promote the census to ONU students and area residents.

A preliminary survey by her team found that 60 percent of ONU students did not know that they have to fill out the census and be counted as residents of the place they live most of the year rather than their family home.

The teams, part of a public relations class under the direction of Dr. Alisa Agozzino, visiting instructor in communication arts, created census awareness campaigns as part of the National Bateman Case Study Competition sponsored by the Public Relations Student Society of America. This year, Bateman’s client is the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau is using the competition as part of a larger effort to increase participation in the 2010 Census.

Small School TeamWorking on the ONU campus and with Hardin country were Scott, Allison Gribben, a junior public relations major from East Palestine, Ohio, and Stephanie Rowe, a junior public relations major from Waldo, Ohio. Their theme is “Small Town, Small School, Big Impact.”

Working in Allen County in conjunction with The Ohio State University Lima campus and Rhodes State College were Tegan Ellis, a senior communication arts major from Marion, Ohio, Amanda McKelvey, a senior communication arts major from Hammonton, N.J., Joseph Clarkson, a junior communication arts major from Huntingdon, Pa., and Callie Crum, a junior communication arts major from Cardington, Ohio. Their theme is “Impact Your Nation.”

After months of research and planning, the teams implemented their campaigns in February. The students used traditional news media, campus posters and e-mail but also added social media to get the message out.

The campaign created Facebook pages, YouTube videos, blogs and Twitter accounts.

While the “Small Town, Small School, Big Impact” team focused their research on ONU students and the Ada community, the “Impact Your Nation” team took a different approach: They contacted parents in Lima’s six elementary schools.

Even with different approaches, the goal is the same. Ellis says, “Our main goal for this campaign is to encourage residents to participate in the 2010 Census because their responses matter and will impact the nation.”

The results of the census will determine everything from the number of representatives Ohio will have in the U.S. House of Representatives to how much funding local agencies will receive.

Ellis adds, “Our hope is that we, as students, are able to inform and educate residents, allowing them to make educated decisions that will positively impact their community.”