Lights, Camera, Apartments!

When I was in sixth grade I entered an essay contest and won a spot in an Earth Day commercial. I was known mostly for the swishing sound my Charlotte Hornets nylon wind pants made every time I walked down the halls of the middle school, so this was an exciting opportunity to re-invent myself. I was finally catching my big break.

I was incredibly nervous when I got “on set,” as they say in the biz, but directed my energy toward various self-prescribed enunciation and voice-modulation exercises. After chanting “how now brown cow” 16 times, I felt confident I would knock it out of the park.<--break->

Unfortunately there was a bit of a miscommunication with the cameraman.

I was told I would receive some sort of signal when it was time to say my line, but the crew decided otherwise. After staring blanking into the camera for a good 10 seconds waiting for my cue, I suddenly realized the tape was rolling and clumsily sputtered, “Save landfill space.”

Nailed it!

The budget must have been rather meager, as, despite my pleas, the “director” told me they couldn’t go back and re-shoot my segment. It would have to air as-is.

For the next two weeks, people who had never spoken to me before were asking if I was “the girl in the recycling commercial” they saw on Nickelodeon. I wanted to tell them I was also the girl they saw in all of their classes since first grade, but decided to just enjoy my newfound fame. My highly flammable pants no longer defined me at school—my heinous acting performance did.

Clearly, it’s not very hard to get on TV. And whether you’re a born superstar trying to save the Earth, one landfill at a time, or an everyday property manager trying to lease an apartment community, getting in front of the camera is a great way to reach a large audience.

This spring, the Chicagoland Apartment Association (CAA) decided do just that, partnering with CBS2 Chicago for an advocacy campaign called Apartment Living. The educational campaign featured interviews with nine CAA members, who discussed different aspects of apartment living and what to look for in a rental apartment, from lifestyle and community amenities to leasing and property management considerations.

The three-and-a-half minute segments—which aired weekly on CBS’s 11 a.m. news broadcast through late April—were based on a similar campaign run by the Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia (AAGP) last fall.

Participants say the interviews were great media exposure and created a buzz at their communities. The station released the videos to AAGP and CAA each week for approval and revisions, and the segments were posted on the affiliates’ websites and Facebook pages.

Judy Roettig, Executive Vice President of CAA, says the spring campaign was so successful that CAA is considering doing another one in the fall. In one month, CAA’s videos garnered over 1,000 views, with an average page-view time of over three minutes.

It can’t compare to the exposure I received as the poster child of the 1990s environmental movement, but remains impressive in its own right.

For more on the Apartment Living advocacy campaign, check out “Lights, Camera, Apartments!” in the June issue of units, which mails June 7.