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Record response for the 2011 Census


Four was appointed by the UK Office for National Statistics to support a far-reaching consumer and stakeholder awareness campaign in England and Wales for the 2011 Census.  The campaign ran from 2009 to 2012. We provided strategic communications planning – working with other agencies - and implemented a wide-scale digital, stakeholder and consumer public relations campaign to raise awareness and deliver very high, measurable response rates across England and Wales.  

As well as mass participation, other key objectives and targets were to reach specific ‘hard to reach’ audiences including young people, students, people living in multi-tenant households, older people, disabled citizens and key poorer geographical areas. These segments had all been under-represented in the 2001 Census. Alongside the public relations campaign Four also designed, built, made SEO efficient and operated the high traffic Census 2011 stakeholder website.

Initial planning and strategy, audience and message development was critical before designing a media relations and content campaign. Working with the client team and media and advertising agencies we based our planning and campaign development on behavioural economics and strict targeting and segmentation.

Key performance indicators were in place from the start – with key targets agreed for % of census forms returned online (this was the first Digital census), % forms returned in total, % returns from specific groups and locations. These were in addition to performance, media coverage and stakeholder participation KPIs.

We also ran a specific campaign across universities in England and Wales targeting students. We produced content and collateral for students working with the NUS and many universities, young people, mothers, vulnerable groups and Welsh speakers. Creative content included the design and production of posters, beer mats, table-top advertising and press materials. And we co-created grass roots campaigns with students on campus.

 We also developed a strategic plan to cover content creation, viral marketing and social media and incorporated into the Census website separate specialist areas for local authorities, media, students and stakeholders. The site was designed and built the site to the highest Government accessibility, security and usability standards along with features such as social bookmarking on every page, British Sign Language videos and audio guidance.

Our campaign helped the Census achieve record response rates of over 90%  

Four Communications have done a fantastic piece of work for us here. I think the end result is better than we expected.