The U.S. Census Bureau recently released results from the 2020 Census, highlighting new changes and trends in communities across the country.
While the data will be used to determine legislative seats for upcoming elections over the next decade, there are plenty of insights to be gained from the accompanying demographic data from a communications standpoint.
As communicators, it’s important that we keep an eye on our audiences and how they change over time, so we can review and revise strategies to more effectively reach the people we’re attempting to reach both when and how we’re intending.
Here are some key findings from the 2020 census, and some insights public relations and communications professionals can glean from them:
- The U.S. population is more racially diverse than ever. Headlines like this one from the Associated Press – “Census data: US is diversifying, white population shrinking” – tell the story of why “diversity” cannot and should not be treated like a buzzword, but as an imperative for all organizations in order to attract and retain the best talent. That same AP story includes a quote that “there is now no majority racial or ethnic group for people younger than 18,” meaning younger generations are even more diverse than ever before.
- Metro areas are growing – but don’t count out rural communities, either. In Minnesota, the bulk of the city’s growth came from the Twin Cities metro area, according to MPR News. That said, exurban counties – such as Olmsted County near Rochester and Clay County near Moorhead – are also growing tremendously. We’ve blogged about bridging the urban/rural gap before, and know just how important our rural communities are.
- It’s Baby Boomers’ time to shine. Lower birth rates in the past decade mean adults older than 18 make up about 75% of the U.S. population, an increase of about 10% from 2010. Washington, D.C. had the largest population of adults older than 18, while our neighboring state North Dakota had the fastest-growing population of people younger than 18.
So what do these data points mean for communicators? Overall, it emphasizes just how important it is to ensure your messages are reaching a broad, diverse audience and are tailored accordingly – the same messages, strategies and tactics you’ve been using since the last census may not be as effective as they were 10 years ago.
Here are a few questions and points to consider:
- Are you targeting media outreach and/or advertising in geographically diverse areas? There may be new areas with growing or shrinking populations you could re-consider.
- Have you thought of including special interest outlets that reach specific audiences or certain demographics like minority interest, gender interest or older adults in your communications and marketing mix? If not, why?
- Have you reviewed your marketing materials for accessibility, both in terms of design and copy? It’s a good idea to review your online presence (website, social media profiles, etc.) as well. It may make sense to partner with a professional (we’ve been doing some of this work ourselves with longtime agency friend and partner, Smitty’s Workshop!) to maximize your efforts and increase accessibility.
- Should you change up your messaging or tactics when younger or older audiences may be a specifically higher priority? Consider shifting toward newer channels if you’re trying to reach and engage with a younger audience or more traditional channels if an older audience is your target. And make sure the messaging resonates.
- Are you translating materials into multiple languages, and/or regionalizing them for specific areas?
- Have you considered the stance of the political majority or minority in the area you’re reaching, and customizing messaging accordingly? Your current messaging could be alienating certain groups.
These considerations only begin to scratch the surface of what communicators should keep in mind as we’re reviewing audiences and recent census data. If not, there could be missed opportunities as a result. Did other information from the recent data release spark thoughts for you? Please leave a comment or email us – we’d love to discuss!