WKU Student Publications is a finalist for the Student Media Business Pacemaker

WKU Student Publications is a finalist for the Student Media Business Pacemaker

WKU Student Publications was named a 2024 finalist for the Associated Collegiate Press Student Media Business Pacemaker this week, ranking the organization’s overall business practices among the best in the nation.

WKU is a first-time Business Pacemaker finalist with an entry designed by student leaders from Student Publications Advertising and branded content studio Cherry Creative. The business pacemaker evaluates everything from revenue growth and business practices to training and creative approaches to revenue generation that support student-run media.

The finalist designation is the latest confirmation of a top-to-bottom restructuring of Student Publications’ business operations that began in 2018 after a student-led group took a hard look at the changes we needed to make to bring sustainability and growth potential to the organization. .

And it provides an opportunity to tell the story of how our students’ creative ideas are transformed into products and services that significantly improve the business outlook of Student Pubs.

Key steps in the 2018 restructuring were to separate the creative staff from the former College Heights Herald advertising staff and create Cherry Creative. The advertising staff also became its own student-led organization under the name Student Publications Advertising, with a new focus on generating revenue across all of our platforms, not just the Herald.

Among the innovations fostered by the new structure is the WKU Housing Fair, launched in 2019 in partnership with WKU Housing & Residence Life. The event, which allows student-serving housing complexes to gather at the Housing Fair and showcase what they have to offer to students, has quickly become one of our biggest revenue generators. The success of the Housing Fair led to the creation of the Best of the Hill festival to accompany the Herald’s popular Best of the Hill issue each spring, while generating significant revenue.

With an evolution already underway, the 2020-21 pandemic has seen the university close to private classes for one semester, suspend printing of the Herald newspaper, and turn a profit. our revenue dependent operation.

In May 2020, unable to offer our traditional, printed graduation section, the always-money-making Cherry Creative launched the digital WKU Graduate Guide at wkugrads.com to help us keep paying students. This project was awarded ACP’s first Innovation Pacemaker Award in 2020 and has continued to grow and generate more revenue every year.

Student Publications Advertising is also shifting its focus to digital distribution, trying to sell the Herald’s new daily email newsletter when WKU closes on March 11, 2020. and summer conditions. It now goes to over 33,000 subscribers. It virtually became the Herald’s new headline, reaching more people in one day than the former paper did in a week. The Herald print edition has evolved into a monthly corporate news magazine.

Since the end of the pandemic and operations have returned to a more normal state, advertising consultant Wes Orange has placed a high priority on improving our sales training, including deepening students’ knowledge of products, events and other opportunities. The WKU community we offer in Student Publications.

Advised by Sam Oldenburg Student Publications Advertising and Cherry Creative are separate departments in our operation, but they meet regularly and work closely together to brainstorm ideas, attract clients, deliver exceptional products, and generate revenue.

Revenue for the 2022-23 academic year is up 37% over the previous year — incredible growth for a media operation. This growth continues this year, with revenue for Fall 2023 up 36% over Fall 2022.

In addition to WKU Student Publications, other finalists announced this week include:

  • Main Hill Media, University of Arkansas
  • Mustang Media Group, California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo
  • McKinley Avenue Agency, Ball State University
  • Harvard Crimson, Harvard University
  • Central Michigan Life, Central Michigan University
  • Northwest Student Media, Northwest Missouri State University
  • Appalachian, Appalachian State University
  • Daily Dar Heel Media Corp., University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Texas A&M Student Media, Texas A&M University

The winners of the Student Media Business Pacemaker will be announced at the ACP Spring National College Media Conference on March 9 in La Jolla, California.

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