Students work to eliminate Evansville’s ‘miserable’ title

James Vaughn

A class of public relations students at USI tackled Evansville’s recently acquired “miserable” status.

When a student shared an article about a recent Gallup poll responsible for listing Evansville as one of the top ten most miserable cities in America, other students were “disgusted,” said freshman public relations major Amber-Irene Hill.

The poll was based on phone interviews conducted with approximately 353,000 random adults in the U.S.

The categories evaluated include emotional health, life evaluation, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and access to basic necessities.

Evansville came in eighth place overall and ranked second-worst in terms of healthy behaviors.

An Intro to Public Relations class of 37 students decided to take action to help improve Evansville’s image during their April 3 class and have separated into teams, said Hill, a Jasper, Ind., native.

“I think it’s important to show how strong (of) a community we have,” Hill said. “There are so many people our age that want to leave because they say there’s nothing to do, but there are so many things you can do.”

She said Evansville has nice parks, museums and a bunch of awesome restaurants.

The class’s research team will be responsible for finding attractions and facts about the community such as arts, museums, charities, events, neighborhoods and the people.

Some students opted to join a video team, and the video is currently in the production phase.

The social media team created a Facebook page called “We Are Evansville.” As of Wednesday morning, more than 1,200 people had “liked” the page.

Freshman communications major Malia Dyer, a Mount Vernon, Ind., native, said the class as a whole took initiative to refute the city’s “miserable” status.

“If people outside of Evansville happen to stumble upon the page, we want them to get a positive image of the city,” Dyer said.

People from the community are sharing photos and stories on the page.

“The whole goal of this page is to attract people to our city and keep them in,” Dyer said. “We want to change the negative image that Evansville got because of this poll.”

Dyer said they’ve gotten a little off track in class and, though Communications Lecturer Pamela Hight supports their efforts, she’d like to get back on track.

The class is hoping that the community will take their efforts and run with it, she said.

Oswald Communications offered to donate colorful “We Are Evansville” t-shirts, which the students hope will be distributed citywide.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke revealed his support for the campaign by making a surprise visit to campus.

“I wanted to share my gratitude with them for being as offended as I was with the Gallup poll,” Winnecke said. “I find it extremely refreshing that a group of college students, some of whom aren’t even from Evansville, would take it upon themselves to spearhead a marketing effort to declare that Evansville is a great place to live, work and play.”

Winnecke plans to wear his “We Are Evansville” t-shirt, which was designed by the class. He said he would be happy to help distribute additional t-shirts to corporations in the area who wish to order them.

He also plans to generate further media conferences with the students to continue to promote this effort, he said.

“I think it’s pretty feasible that in a matter of weeks we’ll see thousands of brightly colored t-shirts all over the city thanks to that public relations class at USI,” Winnecke said.

He doesn’t understand how Evansville could be considered a “miserable” place to live, he said.

“I meet a lot of people as mayor and I don’t need some survey or poll results to tell me that Evansville is anything but a great city,” Winnecke said.