The Brookings City Council delved into the 2020 federal Census and how the city is gearing up to get the best representation of accurate numbers.

Mayor Keith Corbett and Councilor Leah Brink were absent. Deputy Mayor Patty Bacon presided over the meeting Tuesday.

Chelsie Bakken, public information officer, went over the tactics that will be employed.

Reaching out

The Complete Count Committee has designed a Brookings Counts logo with #ShapeOurFuture, Bakken said.

The marketing plan will contain a fully integrated social media/radio marketing campaign, a print advertising/distribution plan, email marketing, press releases and news articles, a community ambassadors and partners program, working with South Dakota State University and the Brookings School District and other community partners, Bakken said.

The integrated social media/radio program will have digital advertising and GeoFencing, Bakken said.

She is aware of areas in the community that have historically difficult-to-count populations. They plan to use special advertising to reach people in those areas through cell phones and social media. Included in that will be places where people shop, she said.

There will be radio ads and live remotes that will encourage people to take the Census. Brookings Counts will have a video and there will be information on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more.

Print advertising will be prominent; Bakken displayed a mock-up of a full-page ad they will be using. There will be hand-outs, flyers and press releases.

Email marketing will be done with B-Town Buzz, which reaches more than 6,000 people on and off the SDSU campus; the City of Brookings Newsflash will send out emails; and information will be sent out through the Brookings Economic Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce and other partners, Bakken said. 

“We will also be working with Community Ambassadors to do word-of-mouth marketing,” with nonprofits, social media sharing, and BEDC and other community business partners, Bakken said. 

“I’ve put together a City of Brookings Ambassador Program. We have about 13 community businesses that have agreed to help,” Bakken said.  

The Brookings Public Library, Feeding Brookings and Habitat for Humanity have agreed to have a Census taking place in their organizations, where people can get information or handouts about the Census, she said.

“They’ll be educating people about the Census and they will have computers set up where people can take the Census,” Bakken said.

SDSU is doing targeted marketing, as well, she said. This will include students in social media and public relations. The city and SDSU will work on some internal marketing efforts and put out information through the B-Town Buzz newsletter and website.

The Brookings School District will be doing internal marketing.

The city of Brookings website will have a Census Brookings Counts information/resources page. They will utilize word of mouth marketing and BATA will promote the Census on the electronic billboard. 

“The (Brookings Public) Library has agreed to do a children’s Census Story Time; they have found a book on the Census,” Bakken said. 

“We are encouraging people to ‘Take Charge’ by going to the website and looking at their resources,” Bakken said. Local information is available at and online. 

“The nonprofits are really, I believe, the key to reaching those hard-to-reach populations within our community,” Bakken said. 

Key dates

Bakken listed key dates to remember.

By mid-March, most individuals should have received a Census invite in the mail.

April 1 is the official Census Day when everyone across the county is encouraged to complete the Census.

From March to July is when people can respond by phone, mail or online. 

“This is the first time that the Census has been available online,” Bakken said. 

If the Census is not taken by April 30, Census Bureau workers will be knocking on doors from May to July to encourage people to take the Census. 

Councilor comments

Councilor Holly Tilton Byrne asked if the digital ads would include the link to complete the Census. 

“It will include a link to that Census page, but it doesn’t include a link directly to that Census,” Bakken said. People will need to use the link they receive in the mail to take the Census.

Bacon asked if Bakken has found a way to reach out to the people who work in the area dairies because they are most nervous and least likely to take the Census.

“The county is working with a lot of that … but as far as the hard-to-reach populations in our city, that’s where we’re working with that targeted additional marketing,” Bakken said, adding she’s hoping to reach them through the nonprofit organizations because “they have that trust built up.”

Contact Jodelle Greiner at  

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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