Cherry Creative, a student-led division of WKU Student Publications, has redesigned, rebranded and relaunched our apartment-hunting website, WKUApartments.com, this week as we prepare for the pandemic version of our most lucrative event of the year, the WKU Housing Fair.
While the website dates back to 2014, we launched the WKU Housing Fair in 2019 through Cherry Creative, our then-new branded content studio, as means to extending the College Heights Herald’s traditional Housing Guide and expanding its ability to generate revenue.
The housing fair was an immediate hit. We partnered with WKU Housing & Residence Life, which operates the dorms, and staged it in the public spaces of Downing Student Union (formerly DUC), drawing the off-campus apartment complexes and landlords, as well as utility providers and others with an interest in the student real estate market, to the one-day event.
The first year, it generated about $16,000 in profit — revenues less expenses — and we were swamped with positive comments from students and vendors. So we decided to make this experiment an annual event.
In 2020 — just a week before the pandemic was declared — the housing fair generated about $20,000 in revenue, its second highly successful year.
And then, of course, the world changed.
So we put it to our students on Cherry Creative to figure out how we could turn this event, such a successful moneymaker to fund what we do, into a virtual housing fair. And they’re delivering.
For 2021, we will host WKU Housing Week, March 2-5, that features:
- The annual Herald Housing Guide, at 20 pages this year.
- The revamped and relaunched WKUApartments.com as the focus of our efforts.
- 360-degree tours of apartments at vendors’ complexes.
- Videos of apartments and amenities.
- A collection of strong content of interest to student renters.
And this year’s effort, which could have been a bust amid this awful pandemic, will generate more than $15,000 in revenue.
That’s significant in a year when advertising has been down precipitously, when WKU’s budget challenges mean there are nearly no university clients in our ad rosters, and when we want to keep a new tradition alive for when we can return to in-person events.
Kudos to Emma Spainhoward and her crew at Cherry Creative, and to adviser Sam Oldenburg for excellent work turning our in-person event into a virtual experience that still generates a substantial share of the revenue.