Students conduct marketing survey on the Pickford

Western Today staff

A group of Western Washington University students conducted a marketing analysis this spring on the Pickford Film Center that helped it devise new strategies to increase business and awareness among local students.

Western Professor of Communication Karen Stout gave her students the option of choosing from three different final projects for the class, Communication 428. Two of the options were research papers, while the third one involved working with a community partner, which is the option this group chose.

“I found that it gives students such a richer understanding of what we’re learning in the course and a deeper understanding of course concepts and theories, while at the same time being able to do some good with that knowledge,” Stout said.

The group surveyed a total of 153 college students around the Bellingham area to get a better idea of what their fellow students think of the Pickford Film Center and Pickford’s branch theater, the Limelight Cinema. A majority of the respondents stated they had heard of the Pickford and have attended movies there. Of those, 95.8 percent said they enjoyed the experience and would return. Virtually all who had attended the Pickford gave positive feedback about their experience. When asked why they would return to the theater, most said they enjoy the independent films that Pickford offers, and enjoy supporting a community-oriented organization.

The students involved in the research were: Marisa Bunker, Federal Way, Communication; Eriver Eugenio, Kent, Journalism; Kye Freeman, Benton City, Communication; Natalie Groce, Langley, Communication; Kristy Kim, Kent, Journalism; and Geri Massengale, Oak Harbor, Journalism.

Alice Clark, executive director at the Pickford Film Center, said she was pleasantly surprised by the fact that students still want to go out and see movies, rather than watching them at home. She wants to work toward expanding publicity of movie showings to reach students and adopting incentives like more discount ticket prices, to attract a bigger audience.

“After the survey what we figured out was that we just weren’t reaching you [Bellingham’s students] in the right way,” she said. Once students begin their education in Bellingham, Clark noted they don’t know much about the Pickford. Getting newer students to come to the first movie is the hard part, she said.

Clark said there is a lot of useful information that can be gleaned from the survey data, but right now they’re in the process of organizing it all.

Western senior Geri Massengale said she was interested in this project because it was outside her comfort level and it gave her experience working with a client, which is valuable to her.

“It’s really rewarding because my group and I worked so hard; it’s nice to know it wasn’t just ‘another student project’ and we’re happy they took it so seriously,” she said.

For more information on working with students in the community, contact Karen Stout at (360) 650-2563 or karen.stout@wwu.edu.