Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mind the Gap

While taking a car is an everyday thing for most people in the US, it's not as common in the UK. When visiting London you may occasionally take a taxi, you'll certainly do a lot of walking, and you'll definitely want to use the London Underground, or the tube.
The tube is an underground network of trains that can take you pretty much anywhere in the city. There are stations all over. Just look for this sign. 
There are many options when buying tickets; what you get may just depend on how long you are staying for. You can purchase tickets by the day and depending on what lines you are going to take, or you can buy what is called an Oyster card. The Oyster card is a blue, plastic card you can add credit to and pay as you go. This may be a better option if you are staying for a longer period of time. 
There are usually maps at each station to help you find what stops you need and which line to take to get to your final destination.
To check out prices and get a tube map, check out the Transport for London website.
The tube wasn't always just used for travel. During World War II, London subway stations were used as shelters during bombing raids. This past weekend, Aldwych station was opened to the public to mark the 70th anniversary of the Blitz. Staff dressed in period clothing and walked visitors around the station. Tickets sold out before the event even started. You can read the whole story from the Associated press here.
Whether getting from one point to another or commemorating events of London past, the tube is great resource to anyone visiting London.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mixing it Up

I'm changing it up a bit for one blog this week. For my Crisis Communications class I had to interview a Pro. I interviewed Larry Nation, the Communications Director for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. To go along with the London theme, I asked Mr. Nation what his favorite thing about London is:

"I Have been to London only four times, which means I have only scratched the  surface of what that world-class treasure has to offer. Usually stay in the St. James area, which is near Parliament/Buckingham Palace and the Tube takes you everywhere in minutes. Besides the usual suspect places is the "bunker" where Churchill broadcast his great radio speeches and was the Hq for all military ops, (which is near Parliament). But mainly, as always, I enjoy engaging with the "real" people who live and work there (which is the same answer where I go - ).

So, guess my main answer would be talking with interesting people."

I also want to say thanks for taking the time to talk to me. 
So, here's the interview, in overview form, as turned in for class:

    Larry Nation is the Communications Director for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. My dad works at AAPG as the Director of Global Development and Conventions and arranged an interview day with Nation. We communicated through email to find a time that was best. We spoke on the phone and I learned what being the communications director for an association is all about.
    Larry Nation received a bachelor’s degree in Radio/Television Journalism at the University of Tulsa and took master’s courses in Rhetoric and Writing. From there he was a reporter on oil and business, crime, politics and other topics for the Tulsa World. He became the Tulsa World’s youngest State Editor at the age of 24. Nation joined the University of Tulsa Division of Continuing Education as the Marketing Director and later became the Assistant Dean of Continuing Education. Now, he works as the Communications Director for AAPG.
    A typical week for Nation is not typical. It is more of a typical month. He works on the website as well as the monthly publication, AAPG Explorer. Because of this, mid-month is slow, then it “crescendos” up and up until the deadline. Once the deadline is met it starts all over again. He also works on other projects that keep him busy in the down time such as marketing pieces, exhibit design, and other special publications. The number one thing Nation lives by is deadlines.  A deadline is a “promise.” He said you can’t be efficient or economically responsible if you can’t meet a deadline.
    There isn’t one specific project Nation is proud of, but he is proud of their award-winning publications. They work with scientists, who report on what they are doing, and target other geologist. He described the publication as a “common pond in the jungle where all animals come to drink,” because there are many different types of geologists who read the APPG Explorer.
    Nation reads to keep current in the industry. He also makes calls and talks to people. Once he has information, he goes to meetings where they read and discern the important news items.
    As a JB student, Nation wishes he was better at math at the beginning. He said you use it more than you think you will. He would have also liked to learn more scientific aspects.
    Nation said writing is crucial in everything he does. Even in everyday communication, writing is crucial. Writing should have clarity and brevity, and you should be able to use language correctly; being able to communicate well says volumes.
    When I asked Nation for three tips he would offer someone starting out in PR, he paused. He said there were so many things he would share, it was hard to narrow it down to three. The first was to find a mentor, somebody in the business who can guide and assist you. He even mentioned that, although employers may want you to, you’re not supposed to know everything right at the beginning. Second was to get experience on your resume. The third was to make contacts and get to know people. It’s the key to opening doors. Those who are more outgoing are more likely the ones out front while the shy people tend to be more on the production and editing side.  Nation said he could not have been happy on the production side because of his personality. I received an email from Nation after the interview where he gave me one more bit of advice- “when communicating, always consider the target audience and tailor that message for their maximum understanding.”
    Because AAPG is a petroleum and geology association, when the Gulf oil spill occurred its employees had a lot of work to do. Nation worked on getting AAPG positioned to answer questions and be a reliable, unbiased source for the media. The AAPG president has 30 years experience and could talk about was going on. AAPG is an association, therefore it was not labeled as a spokesperson for the industry. Some of the things they shared may not have been what people wanted to hear, but they were honest. This allowed them to make friends with the media. From May 30-Sept. 21, 2010, AAPG has been quoted 519 times in 103 newspapers in the United States and 123 times in 20 international publications. To attract attention in the beginning, he sent out a news advisory saying who they were, contact information and that they were ready to answer any questions. They also sent a release relaying that it was an accident, though it probably could have been avoided. Nation said it snowballed from there. They appeared on CNN, NBC Nightly, in New York Times and other newspapers. Whenever new developments were made in the Gulf, the media already knew who they were. Nation said he is proud how they reacted to the oil spill and assisted the media.
    After the interview with Nation I’m more likely to want a career in PR, but probably not in the petroleum geology field. The answers I got from him were what I was expecting, especially when it came to the importance of writing. It was interesting to hear about the Gulf oil spill and learn a different side of PR and communications based in petroleum.

If you want to find out more about AAPG, check out its website,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

View from the Top

Hello all!
London is a big city with a lot to see and do. But, if you really want a great view of the layout, the London Eye is a must.
The London Eye is located right on the Thames river, just a walk over a bridge and to the left from Big Ben. Standing about 443 feet tall, the London Eye allows you to see a 360 degree view of London. You can see anything from Big Ben and Parliament to Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace off in the distance on a clear day.

The first time I went to London we didn't get a chance to go on the Eye because the line was so long-during peak visiting season and holidays make sure to get there early or be prepared to wait in line for a while. (Also, make sure you check the times the Eye is open, because its hours depend on the time of year.)
This past spring break we decided it was something we were definitely going to try to do. We got up pretty early and made our way over using the Underground and some walking. If you get off on a stop early enough, you also get to see great landmarks on the way over.
You can buy tickets in a building near the Eye. Regular tickets and fast track tickets are available. After getting our tickets, we stood in line, were given 3-D glasses and sent into a 4-D theater. We watched the "4-D experience" (I wont tell you the whole story here) and then made our way over to the London Eye line.
The line only lasted about 10 minutes, then we were ready to board. Now, to board, you literally have to just walk on quickly as the capsule, what you stand in, goes by. They lock you in and, at this point, you are free to walk around the capsule and see the great views of London.
 The Eye takes about 30 minutes to make its way back to where you have to swiftly walk out of the capsule, again, as it keeps moving.

My family paid £17.95 a ticket for the standard day flight, or about $28 each, but prices vary if you buy fast track, online and so on. It's totally worth it. You see a view of the city you'll never get from just walking around or taking a bus. You'll get great pics and an experience to talk about. Its also the London Eye's 10 year celebration, so even more is going on this year! I definitely recommend checking out the London Eye.

If you want to know more about prices, times or just fun facts, check out the London Eye website,

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Loving London

I'm Alyson, an Oklahoma State University Advertising and PR student, who, as you may have guessed, loves London. Though I've only been there twice, most recently for spring break of 2010, it's one of my favorite places. I have to create a blog for my PR Media class so I decided, what better topic to talk about than my #1 vacation spot- London? So here you have it: Live.Love.Laugh.London.

I'll be looking at things to do in London, places to see, food to eat, and even a few tips about the underground (with a few stories mixed in here and there.) I would by no means call myself an expert on the city by the Thames, but I would hop on a plane this minute if I could and go- that's why I chose this particular topic to talk about for the semester (and maybe even longer if it turns out okay :) )

Thinking about going to London or have something you want to know about? Post a comment or ask away and, if I can, I'll try to help you out.