Thursday, May 10

The 2012 Europe, the Middle East and India tour sponsored by James Madison University began when our group landed at London Heathrow Airport on Thursday. The group met at our hotel, The Royal National located on Bedford Way in Russell Square. We started our day by trying out a local pizza place, Blooms Pizza, where we discussed our upcoming itinerary. Despite feeling a bit jetlagged, we were excited to begin what we knew would prove to be the experience of a lifetime. After a short nap we felt refueled enough to explore the city. To get a feel for the city, we made our way towards the Soho district, a bustling downtown area full of local culture.  When we returned to the hotel, we were able to catch up on some much needed sleep in preparation for our professional briefings the next day.

Friday, May 11

We began our morning with a European style breakfast of toast, granola, and fruit. The plan for the day included briefings at Echo Research and Ketchum Pleon as well as lunch with Dr. John White, an independent communications consultant. We hopped on the “Tube” a term for the London underground subway system, and took it to Echo Research that was located near Tower Hill. Echo Research, recently acquired by Ebiquity, has a main focus on reputational research that monitors, measures, benchmarks, and advises for their clients in order to better that client.
We met with Sam Knowles, the integrated services director, and discussed his personal definition of public relations and different aspects of the evolving field. According to Mr. Knowles, “public relations takes a group or audience on a journey, through a variety of tactics to move them along a spectrum of engagement.” Mr. Knowles advised us to remain both task oriented as well as objectively focused throughout our careers. Reflecting on this visit, we all plan to take this advice, which we feel will be very useful in the real world. Upon leaving the office, we took a stroll to nearby St. Katherine’s Pier, which was hosting an international foods festival. After enjoying a few samples, we took pictures with London’s Tower Bridge as our backdrop.            

Zizzis, a restaurant overlooking the pier, was where we met Dr. John White for lunch. While enjoying our meal, he gave us a synopsis of his life, starting with his early career, as well as his opinions on the current state of the public relations field. We appreciated his knowledgeable insight on the versatility of public relations. He feels that despite its quickly evolving nature, the fundamentals remain grounded. It was stimulating to receive advice from someone who became independently successful within the communications field. After enjoying our Italian cuisine in good company, we hopped in a cab and made our way to Ketchum Pleon.

In the lobby we met with Aimee Bateas, a JMU grad who is now an account coordinator. She brought us to the conference room where we also met Kate Matlock, a digital strategist. Together they outlined the merger of Ketchum and Pleon as well as the company’s objectives and success. They recommended that we remain both flexible, hardworking, and generous with our time and ideas throughout our future careers.  We also took a fun public relations quiz that highlighted social media. A tool Kate introduced us to, which we hope to utilize in the future, is Listorious. It is a site where one can acquire information about other professional’s media contacts. Upon returning to the hotel, we rested up a bit, then enjoyed dinner and another exploration of the city.

Saturday, May 12

The next morning we met Aimee in Soho at the Breakfast Club. There we enjoyed a delicious brunch that was a mix of both English and American cuisine. In the afternoon we took a private tour of London, which included stops at Covent Garden, The Palace of Sir James, Grosvenor Square, the Piccadilly Circus, The Clock Tower (Big Ben), Westminster Abbey, the queen’s birthplace, and Buckingham Palace. The tour guide dropped us off at Heathrow Airport to catch our flight to Abu Dhabi by way of Bahrain. We had many wonderful experiences in London to kick off our tour, and look forward to returning at the end of the month. We are eager to continue our adventures in the Middle East and to further our knowledge of the communication and public relations fields. 

_Mary Cerasa and Katie Casey

6/7/2012 01:58:52 am

The Bengali people are generally fond of music and art. Here one can always find an aspiring singer in almost every house.

6/9/2012 04:39:21 pm

There are quite a few places in London that are the most thrilling and fascinating in the world around.

7/27/2012 05:10:46 pm

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7/27/2012 05:15:42 pm

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    All of the participants in the study abroad tour will be blogging about the tour before, throughout and after they return.


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