Friday, February 24, 2006

More Findings on the UW System Miraculously Discovered!

We should be able to expect more...even from a PR firm.

The Journal-Sentinel published a front-page story today, which I cover here, about a public opinion survey conducted by the Madison-based PR firm Wood Communications Group on the UW System. The headline from the paper was "State Survey Scalds UW System."

This was the overwhelmingly negative conclusion the paper came to after seeing the findings released by Wood Communications Group, as did UW officials and business leaders after the firm's president Jim Wood gave a PowerPoint presentation to them with the same troubling findings. Some conservative politicians across the state, including both GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, also got pretty excited over the findings--one of them even proposed dismantling the UW System as a result.

Turns out those negative results weren't the only ones generated by the survey. Apparently after seeing the front-page story in the JS, the PR firm contacted the paper to release other findings from the survey. These new ones--which were never released to UW officials or business leaders at their meetings with Wood--were overwhelmingly positive.

One was that 60% of respondents think the value of UW education in relation to the cost is good or excellent.

Another was that 80% believe "the UW System is doing an excellent job of providing a good education."

In light of this new info, which presents quite a contrast to the overwhelmingly negative findings initially released, how the questions in the survey were worded becomes all that much more important.

On this note, the JS asked if there were additional findings from the survey. Evidently there are, but Wood Communications Group isn't going to release them--explaining that it's their "proprietary data and we may choose to use it for other purposes.” Any thoughts that Wood was providing this survey as a public service just went out the window with that comment.

Similarly, I haven't heard anything back from Wood Communications Group regarding my request for the complete survey questions and findings, along with the geographic disbursement of those polled. Since the biggest newspaper in the state wasn't able to get anything out of them, I'm pretty sure that means I shouldn't hold my breath for a response.

I wonder why Wood didn't release the positive findings when meeting with UW officials and business leaders? I alluded in my earlier post to the fact that the PR firm was potentially using this survey as a fishing expedition in an attempt to net a big client--the UW System. Turns out that thought may be correct. Nothing like stirring up a little hysteria for your own financial gain.


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