Student Media – Dos and Don’ts

Top tips you need to know before sending your press releases to student media

Student publications are a great place to get your press release some coverage and target a different audience. I’m the Online Editor for The Mancunion Student Newspaper at the University of Manchester and it’s an amazing publication to be part of. With over 15 sections covering everything from investigations to creative submissions there are pieces that everyone wants to read. Lots of other universities across the UK have award winning publications. These include Exeposé (The University of Exeter), Nouse (University of York) and Impact (University of Nottingham).

Each student publication will have different design formats and styles of writing unique to that university. However they all want engaging stories that are relevant to student life around their university. Also, being ran by students, most stories are pitched and written by those at university. Indeed, press releases are welcome as fresh and engaging stories haven’t been covered.

I’ve seen the criteria these publications go through to select press releases, so, here are some tips and tricks to make sure you’re not turned away. 

1. Easy to read

If there’s complicated language or technological terms this will only confuse readers. If it’s not easy to understand within the opening, a publication will turn it away. In contrast, these publications are looking for fun stories that students tell their friends in the pub, even the simplest of ideas get coverage. 

2. Know your audience

Although the audience is obviously students, universities always have allegiances with groups or particular interests. Press releases are more likely to get pickup if a specific publication has a unique interest in what you’re pitching. Every publication has a news section, many will have other sections. These range from investigations to creative submissions with niche audiences that would be great to engage with. 

3. Political affiliations

Also, if a publication has political or social connections this will determine whether they publish a press release. It’s obvious most student publications are left leaning. Consider whether the press release is appropriate to a student audience. The Mancunion recently wrote an article surrounding the unsurprising statistics on gender demographics, highlighting their liberal political stance. 

4. Format of the publication

In addition, knowing whether the publication prints in a newspaper form may depend on the success of a press release. The potential for a design team to create a fun spread with it and have a print copy would be great. The Mancunion publishes a print copy every 2 weeks. In fact, they’re always looking for articles they can put a fun and artistic spin on in print. 

5. Media connections

Most student publications have connections to other media sources within their university like radio or tv stations. For example, The Mancunion is part of the Manchester Media Group which includes Fuse FM and Fuse TV. Researching whether these groups would share your story would widen its coverage. 

6. Relatable pieces

Every piece published must be relatable and relevant to the students at that university. Stories surrounding student life are easy stories for these publications. But any story that can be attractive to students, either for events or just regional news happening around the university is great. For example, an Agony Aunt section where students can get advice for their worries.

7. Know the student areas

Be aware of where most of the student population live. Having a story based in an area that many students will want to know about will boost the chances of publications picking up a press release as it’s important to many of their readers. In Manchester, Fallowfield is the heart of students at all universities across the city, as a result, we always publish stories from this area in The Mancunion.

8. Usefulness of the story

Finally, as with any press release, not being too sales-y or pushy is vital in securing a student publication story. If it isn’t relatable to the student community it must not be a useful story tell because of the area it’s in or is a niche subject matter. Consequently, selling the press release by simply being an interesting piece to publish is key.