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NME partners with University of Reading to deliver growth in student numbers

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“Giving our students the chance to work with NME gave them a unique opportunity to learn from the best and stand out from the crowd”
Karen Smalley, Head of Brand & Campaigns at The University of Reading

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The University of Reading needed to deliver ambitious growth in student numbers and income in the build-up to the University’s centenary year of 2026. Success would be measured on their ability to attract high-potential, first-choice students.

In order to achieve this, the University of Reading wanted to build a strategic relationship with Reading Festival and Time Inc to help raise its profile by increasing brand awareness and exposure. It was also key to build and amplify these messages beyond traditional education channels.

NME and the University of Reading partnered to offer 12 students the chance to report live for NME from backstage at world-famous Reading Festival.

The campaign reached out to aspiring music journalists and filmmakers at the University who were invited to take over the legendary music magazine NME at last year’s festival. The team of students were embedded with NME’s editorial team to create live content for NME.com, their social media outlets and a 16-page supplement that formed part of the magazine’s post-festival coverage.

The approach played on the power of peer-to-peer advocacy, delivering marketing messages and driving engagement through NME’s access to the target audience at a significant scale.


  • Reached an audience of 7 million over the festival weekend
  • Resulted in the University of Reading's largest open day attendance and increased course application
  • Over 1000 pieces of content created live at the festival
  • 16-page supplement
  • Also delivered a 360,000 print-run which was distributed inside NME with 10,000 additional copies produced as marketing assets for prospective students at the University of Reading open days
  • The project resulted in full-time job working with NME for one of the students
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