Communications Conference 2021

Wycombe Abbey Communications Conference 2021

On a cold November day Lower Sixth made their way to the Archer Recital Hall for the Communications Conference where we were joined by Emma Nelson and Chris Maughan, two successful journalists from Mediafirst. What followed was an enriching and eventful day learning about the power of communications and public relations in the world of media and news.

We started the day by learning various tips and tricks for how to deal with a media or PR crisis, such as making sure to show compassion when in situations of catastrophe as well as engage with your audience. One of the many useful acronyms we learnt from Emma and Chris was CARE – Compassion, Action, Reassurance and Examples. The acronyms helped provide us with clear and easy to remember guidelines when found in a situation where you may need to explain a crisis or communicate with the media. We watched examples of TV interviews and analysed the efficacy of the methods, deepening our learning and understanding of the skills being taught.

After this informative talk we took those skills demonstrated to us and applied them in a crisis simulation. Fourteen teams took on the role of a company’s communications department for the invented ice cream company ‘Fabulous Cow’. The realistic online simulation provided by Conducttr required us to handle a series of ‘disasters’ by communicating with the press, constructing and responding to social media posts and replying to internal company emails. Perhaps the most nerve-wracking but valuable element of the conference was taking part in TV interviews whilst being asked tough questions by the journalists and being filmed by professional camera operators. It was a great opportunity to put everything we’d learned into practice and to see if we could remain calm and composed in a high-pressure situation.

After spending the day learning and practising, we gathered for a final awards ceremony, during which Headmistress, Mrs Duncan presented awards to the best teams and to the best interviewees. The day was eye-opening and invaluable, the professional training provided us with a full toolbox of skills to use, if and when, we come in contact with the media as well as enhancing our previous skills to work on the go and to be quick problem solvers. We would like to thank Mediafirst as well as Dr Goddard and Ms Bowen for putting on such an amazing day full of fun and learning.

Kimberley, LVI

The Communications Conference is part of Wycombe Abbey’s bespoke Sixth Form Carrington Programme. It gives pupils the opportunity to learn the principles of good communication skills from professional journalists, to work in a team to deal with difficult and surprising problems in a realistic crisis simulation and to face the pressure of a live TV interview. This immersive educational experience is a great way for pupils to challenge themselves and develop new skills that are valuable at school and beyond.