i has launched a marketing campaign aimed at getting students to engage with the paper, and I have been lucky enough to be chosen to represent the paper at the University of Kent. The task of promoting a paper to students is a difficult one, for all sorts of reasons.
Firstly, I should add a disclaimer. These are not meant as patronising stereotypes, they will not necessarily be applicable to every student, although I can say with some certainty that they apply to all of my friends at university as well as myself.
Students are poor. Perhaps we’re not ‘impoverished’ as such but, in this day and age, money (or the lack thereof) is at the forefront of a student’s mind. You will not have to look far to find stories of student unrest concerning an increase in tuition and accommodation fees, with demonstrations in the UK still continuing. So why spend money on a newspaper?
In a round-about answer to that question we come to our second commonality: students love free stuff. When I handed out free copies of i outside our campus store, passers-by accepted them with a mixture of distrust, surprise, and gratitude. On giving out a free week’s worth of vouchers for i, one of my friends commented that the total saving made by these vouchers (£1.20) wasn’t all that much. Well, that is one of i’s selling points: affordability.
Does the seriousness of a newspaper conflict with the student’s sense of fun? I would say no: advertising for the iQuiz, a pub quiz organized by i (of which one of the rounds is ‘in the news’), I have seen students keen to pick up the paper and start studying for the chance of winning.
Of course this is not to say that i is so fun that it contains a weekly drinking-game suggestion. It is a genuinely intelligent and serious paper, one which students can respect, and which I have heard a student call the most impartial and unbiased paper he knows. The fact that i are trying to reengage with students is a sign that we are recognized and that our opinions and concerns are important.
Many students feel jaded with politics and current affairs in a world that seems completely out of our control, and it is great to be approached by an intelligent paper which does not purposefully patronise our youth, but is rather interested in our engagement with a world which we may one day lead.
Chad Greggor is one of i's 18 student brand ambassadors.