Placement, Planes and PR

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

Just over a week ago I came to the end of my 12-month corporate communications placement with Airbus. And what a year it’s been. As the title of this post suggests, the past 12 months have very much been about three P’s… Placement. Planes. And, of course, PR.

So I wanted to write a post to reflect on my experiences, taking a look back at what I’ve learned, where I’m headed and what advice I’d give to others thinking about embarking on a placement year.


First up, is a placement worth it? Well if you’re anything like me and want exposure to the corporate environment, on-the-job training and the opportunity to build a network of industry contacts, all before leaving the confines of campus life, then the answer is undoubtedly yes.

As I’ve mentioned before, pre-placement I was yet to find my professional niche. I knew I needed to play to my strengths and always had a certain level of confidence in my content creation and editorial skills – so journalism seemed the obvious fit.

But I soon realised that I wanted to help shape the news not just report it. And so I decided to step over to the so-called ‘dark side’.

I used my placement to test drive a PR career for 12 months and in turn it’s shown me exactly what I want to do and where I want to be.

Even if it hadn’t, I’d still have acquired a wealth of workplace skills (transferable ones at that) with a whole year left to weigh up my options. So for anyone about to start their placement story, I’d say this…

Soak up all the experience you can get. Be proactive, challenge the status quo, get outside your comfort zone, make mistakes, relish responsibility and, perhaps most importantly, lose your inhibitions… Because in many ways with a placement, you just can’t lose.


Not only this but I’ve gone from knowing next to nothing about aviation to developing a passion for what is a uniquely exciting industry to be a part of (I’ve even been known to get my geek on, on occasion). Indeed, my year with Airbus has given me a good understanding of the B2B market as well as a taste for what it’s like to work both within a transnational organisation and a vital sector of the global economy.

To put things into perspective, the aviation industry supports more than 60 million jobs worldwide and depends on a vast international supply chain, with stakeholders located everywhere from local business to the highest branches of government around the globe.

And so, as you might expect working for a leading commercial aircraft manufacturer, the last year has quite literally broadened my horizons…

Yet, in a world where Airbus’ best-selling A320 jetliner takes off or lands every two seconds – nothing seems out of reach.


But now back to what inspired this blog in the first place.

From live social media broadcasts and hosting journalists to employee engagement initiatives and events management, I’ve gained a diverse range of experience across all aspects of communication, including internal comms, CSR, external PR and media relations.

It’s the latter two areas which have really lit my professional spark and will be where I look to hone my skill set going forwards. But all of the projects I’ve been fortunate enough to manage or get involved with at Airbus have seen me develop enormously as a communications professional, providing me with a solid foundation to build upon as I prepare for my next challenge.

And what better time to be starting out in the industry? By its very nature, PR is a varied and exciting profession. But now is a time of particularly exciting developments for practitioners, with new tools making it easier than ever to log and analyse output, big data providing more effective evaluation metrics for measuring outcomes and digital technologies (including VR and AR) showing the potential to revolutionise how brands get their message out to target audiences.

What's next?

So what’s the biggest takeaway from the last year? Knowing beyond a doubt that PR is where I’m supposed to be. Quite simply, I can’t imagine going into work every day and doing anything else. After all…

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.” ~ Daniel J. Boorstein

And so all that’s left to say is a massive thank you. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some fantastic communication professionals over the past year. You know who you are. And I hope you all follow what I get up to next.

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© 2018 Claire Simpson​. 

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