Melanie Sanchez is a senior studying public relations at the University of Nevada, Reno’s, Reynolds School of Journalism. She and a group of classmates are participating in the Public Relations Student Society of America’s annual Bateman Case Study Competition, where teams of students work to implement a full public relations campaign.

What is the Bateman Competition?

So, the Bateman Competition is a case study where we get assigned a client, and this year’s client is the U.S. Census. So we are to research this client, research everything we need to know about the audience we’re trying to reach and, basically, come up with a campaign, write a communications campaign and implement that campaign. And that’s currently the phase we’re in. We’ve been implementing for about four or five weeks, I think. And we have two more weeks to go. And then after that we evaluate how we did in this campaign. Did we actually hit the goals we wanted to hit? Did we meet all of our, basically, objectives and tactics that we wanted to complete?

What’s the 10 for 10 part I was reading about?

The 10 for 10 part is part of our campaign that we designed. We wanted to name our campaign that way because it takes 10 minutes to take the census, and it shapes the next 10 years of your life.

How big is your team?

There’s five of us. There’s myself. … I oversee everything. Molly [Appleby] is in charge of publicity. I have a social media person. And then I have a creative person who’s done all of our videos, all of our little cards and stuff. And then I have a project manager who assists me in all things.

And the audience is Gen Z. How is your campaign going to motivate them to take the census? We are really trying to hit home with, “This is an online thing you take for the first time ever.” This is the first time that the census has ever been online. … And we’re really trying to push that. And we’re trying to make it easier for them by getting them to pledge. So, if they pledge, they get a reminder from us with a link to take the census. And there are incentives as well. We’ve partnered with a bunch of businesses to get them gift cards. So, if they pledge, they get entered into a raffle. It’s a little bit of a push.

What do you think are Gen Z’s biggest misconceptions about the census?

I think that people are a little wary about their data and doing it online. I think that, more than ever, people have a little bit of mistrust with the government—so trying to get people to trust us to tell them this information, trying to get people to understand what the census is in the first place. A lot of people confuse it with the caucus. And that’s been a bit of a struggle, trying to educate people. … It’s trying to educate people on how important it is and how it affects our schools and education.

There’s a lot of funding attached to it. Do you know that figure?

It’s 675 billion dollars.

Did you have to learn a bit about the census yourselves?

Yes. … So, we surveyed about—I want to say 189 college students here on campus. And about 50 percent didn’t know what the census even was. I think we had about 30 percent who didn’t want to take it because they thought, “How is this going to help me at all?” It’s not like voting where you … fill out the thing and you know exactly how this is going to impact your community, whereas the census is like, “Why do they want to know my name? Why do the want to know where I live?” … And part of our campaign is educating people on why they’re asking these questions.

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