As the high technology industry grew, eclipsing the forest products industry as Oregon's largest manufacturing sector in the 1990s, grumbling turned to flat-out criticism about allegedly low wages paid by electronics firms when, in fact, the industry was driving up wage rates.
To set the record straight, the Oregon Council of the American Electronics Association (AeA) launched an annual industry performance survey. CFM was asked to help turn around public perceptions using data from what became known as the Oregon Technology Benchmarks.
Publicizing the first Benchmarks and the annual updates that have followed (1995-2001), CFM developed outreach vehicles aimed at business writers throughout Oregon, who were given sneak previews of new data to encourage coverage – before and after actual data was released. CFM helped organize an annual benchmarks conference, which included access to high tech executives and economists for one-on-one interviews.
Coverage for the 1995 benchmarks was widespread throughout the Northwest and the event became the premier annual forum for the high technology industry. The benchmarks and easy media access to the data were described by the publisher of Oregon Business magazine as one of the best communications campaigns he had seen.