During the study abroad experience, each week I took my classes on field trips. Mondays were with the public speaking course, while Wednesdays were with the public relations writing course. First, I’ll describe the field trips for the public speaking course.
Yeoman Warder during a tour at the Tower of London
Their first field trip was to the Tower of London for a Yeoman Warder tour. Our guide was the first, and at that time, only female warder. To be a warder one must have served in the royal military for 22 years and have exemplary service in order to apply for the position. Our guide told us it took her six months to learn the script for the tour. She was a spectacular guide and showed the students how practice makes one a terrific public speaker.
Following our tour, the students were able to explore the Tower, see the dungeon, the armory and the crown jewels (always a favorite of mine).
From here we went to the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum for a tour of the British Galleries. Where our Yeoman Warder was the epitome of what to do as a public speaker, our guide at the V&A was the complete opposite. First, our guide was a volunteer of the museum and a very nice man…he just needs to learn how to speak to a crowd without making them uncomfortable. Instead of giving facts about the room we were in and the artifacts within, he often would stop and make direct eye contact with one person in the group making them uncomfortable.
A great day as students saw the polar opposites of what to do and not do in public speaking.
The second field trip day for the public speaking students was to the Science Museum. Working in pairs, I assigned them a specific aspect of the Information Age exhibit to present in class the next day. From here we made our way to Regent Park where they gave an impromptu speech.
Third field trip day was to the UK Supreme Court. What I thought could be an interesting site, turned into another dud. Our guide thought the class was there to learn about debating, not public speaking, so he didn’t really know what to talk about. With no court cases happening, we weren’t able to see anyone “in action.” After a quick bite for lunch we went on a Harry Potter walking tour. Our guide was animated and kept the group interested and involved throughout.
The final field trip for the public speaking course was to Kensington Palace (former home of Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and Will & Kate). After the students explored the palace, they delivered their special occasion speeches in the palace gardens.
Field trips for the public relations writing course were, in my opinion, some of my favorites!
On the set of “The One Show”
Their first field trip was to the Museum of Brands, Advertising & Packaging. It was located in a small, out of the way, location in Notting Hill, but it holds so much history – back to the early 1900s! It was interesting to see how brands and their looks changed throughout the years. The class was divided in pairs with specific items to locate which they discussed in class the next day. After lunch we headed to the BBC for a tour of the BBC Broadcasting House.
On the tour we saw the newsroom and sat on the set of “The One Show” (pictured left). In one of the rooms, two of my students (Lila & Josh) were able to be “newscasters” against a green screen, while another student (Sydnie) did the weather report. In another room students participated in a radio drama.
With the team at Abchurch Communications
On their second field trip we visited Abchurch Communications, a public relations firm specializing in financial public relations. Julian Bosdet, the chief executive at Abchurch, began our visit with an overview of the company, describing their communication toolbox. This was followed by Jamie Hooper, director, discussing digital communication. Following a lunch provided by the firm we talked about differences in PR in the United Kingdom and the United States including social media, crisis communication and sports. After lunch they hosted a brainstorming sessions.
I was so glad to be able to visit the firm for students to get a first hand look at what life is like for a public relations practitioner and for these gentlemen to give us part of their day was priceless.
Following our visit the students and I went to the Wellcome Collection for an afternoon tea 🙂
The third field trip day for the writing class was probably my least favorite (and for some of the students as well). We visited the Science Museum and the Information Age exhibit. The 12 students were paired up, given a topic, told to research it and present it to the class the next day, including how to use PR to publicize that part of the exhibit. After a bite to eat, we headed to the Freud Museum. Since the “father of modern public relations,” Edward Bernays, is the nephew of Sigmund Freud I thought it would be interesting to visit the museum to find what it included with regard to psychoanalysis. The answer – not much. While the house and grounds were beautiful, there wasn’t more than one wall on the topic of psychoanalysis.
With the team at ABI Marketing Public Relations
For the final field trip for the writing class we visited another public relations firm, ABI Marketing Public Relations. The staff were very welcoming and presented a lot of great, valuable information to the students. They gave the students the same writing test given to anyone wishing to intern or work for the company. The “winner” of the competition was given a large box of chocolate!
Those who presented to the students provided rich, valuable information for these students to take back with them to the states. Also, it’s great when someone in the profession backs up what has been discussed in class 🙂