Roommates who get stuck doing the dishes or taking out the garbage have another outlet for recognition: Apartments.com has relaunched its Roommate of the Year video contest for the fifth year.
In it, renters are asked to spotlight their so-called "roommate-worthiness" by submitting two-minute videos. Apartments.com wants entrants to showcase the attributes that qualify them to be Roommate of the Year by choosing the category that defines their skills. Categories include: Loveable Compulsive, Purr-fect Pet Owner, Environmentalist and All-Star Roomie.
However, while Apartments.com has previously selected finalists from each category, Tammy Kotula, public relations and promotions manager for Apartments.com, notes finalists will now be selected solely on quality, no matter what category they are in.
"If we get all our entries in the All-Star roommate category, we may have all the finalists from there," Kotula says. "We don't limit ourselves anymore."
And "roommate" doesn't just mean a guy or gal from Craigslist. Pets/owners and couples also count as roommates, but Kotula is clear there can be only one Roommate of the Year, so a video entry must be specific about which inhabitant is entering.
While three of the four previous winners featured songs, content is not limited to music. Kotula says prior entries have included documentary-style videos and even played off of Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man spokesman.
Entries must be received by noon ET on May 20.
According to the website, videos will be judged on originality and creativity, overall wow factor, persuasive argument and style and production.
Entries will initially be narrowed down to 15 finalists before the voting phase begins, which will narrow the field to five. From the five winners, one grand prize winner will be named.
Kotula says the second phase is an exciting time as finalists use their own blogs and social media accounts to drum up votes, which gains greater exposure for Apartments.com.
The roommate who wins the grand prize will receive a year of free rent plus $10,000 in cash for a total of $20,000.
According to Kotula, Apartments.com has received about 40 to 50 video entries a year in prior years.
"For a long-form video, we're really happy about those [numbers] -- especially when you look at the quality," Kotula says. "When you look at people who have won or are finalists, they spent weeks on it. It's more about the quality of submission than just submitting a video."
The contest launched April 8, so Kotula says it's too early for any entries yet.
"A lot of entries come right at the end," she adds.
Apartments.com says this contest underscores the importance of finding and being a good roommate. More than 60 percent of renters currently live with a roommate -- friends, spouses, significant others, children or pets -- according to a recent Apartments.com survey.
"We wanted to create another way that's a little more fun and playful to interact with the brand," Kotula says. "A lot of times you hear negative horror stories of roommates, so we want to celebrate those who go above and beyond."
In return, the brand gains exposure -- such as featuring winners on the Today Show -- and turns its finalists into brand advocates when drumming up support for videos, she says.
Apartments.com's target audience includes college students and recent graduates up to renters in their mid-30s.
Apartments.com has about 41,000 Facebook fans and 3,700 Twitter followers.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
March 19, 2014