On Aug., 13 the Portland Business Journal, part of a chain of newspapers that includes 40 business publications throughout the nation, opened up a non-scientific poll on their website to determine Oregon’s best college town.
The categories were chosen by which college towns came to mind first: Corvallis, Eugene, Portland and Forest Grove. They had another category titled “Other.”
At the bottom of the poll there was a space to leave comments. Many of the comments were along the lines of: “How could you miss Newberg–home of George Fox University,” and “Hello from McMinnville and Linfield College! The town loves the college and the college loves the town!”
After about four weeks of being posted, 2,242 votes were cast. Forest Grove pulled through with 59 percent of the votes.
“It’s nice that a smaller enrolled private institution was thrown in there,” Pacific Media Relations Director Joe Lang said. “This was a fun opportunity and it’s something we are proud of.”
Over the last five to six years, Pacific has tried to increase awareness of the university’s identity. By rebranding, redesigning the school’s website and having an active social media presence, the university markets itself to the public. Lang believes that the media presence as well as the historical root attached to Pacific played a roll in being chosen for the poll.
“We try to build reader engagement and we try to do more surveys, polls and quizzes,” Portland Business Journal Reporter Andrew Giegerich said. “The response from Forest Grove blew us away.”
When Pacific realized they were part of the poll, they utilized their social media channels.
“We monitor news media, that’s one of the things I’m responsible for is to see what’s out there and once it was clear that we were part of this poll, [the marketing group] got together and determined how we should try to have fun with it and also engage our constituents,” Lang said. “We pushed through social media outreach. We used our new website and did a lot of encouraging people to vote for Forest Grove.”
Although the poll was merely for interest and fun for the Portland Business Journal readers, many people think that McMinnville and Linfield would have done well.
Portland Business Journal Media Manager Mason Walker said although they aren’t able to track small city geographic information as to where the votes came from, Forest Grove and even McMinnville, though the Wildcats were not on the poll, marketed their name more than the other college towns.
“Linfield was not on the poll, but they had a ‘write-in’ campaign and left a ton of comments on the poll as votes,” said Walker.
Lang wonders why McMinnville and Salem weren’t immediately thought of, but then remembers that this poll was not like an election where it’s much more controlled in terms of sample size.
“At the same time, Forest Grove has a lot of things to offer, not just the university,” Lang said. “But it’s nice for us to be able to say there’s a lot of people that are proud of Forest Grove and that affiliation.”