BA (Hons) PR and Marketing Communications - Professional Communication Placement

BA (Hons) PR and Marketing Communications

Professional Communication Placement

Placement Guide for Hosts

General Information

Purpose of the Placement

The aim of the placement is to provide students with valuable practical experience relevant to the Public Relations/Marketing programme they are studying at QMU. It gives students the opportunity to develop, as well as apply, knowledge and skills gained on the course. The chance to observe and participate in professional communication in an organisation may also provide students with topics for their honours dissertation and, possibly, a relevant career choice. The students are also expected to develop further their competence in core skills such as communication and problem solving, and to work on their interpersonal skills in a professional setting.

The purpose of this document is to provide host organisations with a guide to the placement highlighting:

  • the objectives of the placement
  • what the student should be capable of doing


Placements for 2022-23 are scheduled to last a minimum of 150 hours.  The student and host may negotiate a longer placement if they wish. Students may undertake the placement anytime from May ‘22 to March ’23. If the placement is during term time, it must be scheduled around teaching sessions. The student may work in the office or remotely or some combination of that. The placement can be 1-2 days per week or in a block to coincide with student vacations. Ultimately, the timing of each placement will be a mutual decision made by the host and student in conjunction with the placement coordinator. 

Role of the Host Organisation

Placement Objectives 

Although administrative tasks such as filing and general office duties may be part of a trainee’s job description, we do request that hosts provide students with opportunities to experience as broad a range of activities as possible

Initially to gauge competency levels, we recommend a virtual meeting with the student to assess their skills and experience, discuss expectations and set agreed objectives. 

To help with orientation and induction, it may be useful for the student to shadow a member of the host organisation, assisting as appropriate, observing and discussing the daily routines and tasks, and attending meetings with their guide.

The combination of shadowing and active participation should give the student the chance to assess the working protocols of the organisation and then give them the opportunity to put into practice some of the knowledge and skills they have attained on their course as well as picking up more practical vocational knowledge. 

Work Programme

The key skills identified above are features of a placement that no university-based course can adequately emulate. During their time of study at QMU, students have acquired skills in: content creation suitable for a range of audiences, press releases and photocall notices, basic photography, digital PR, basic web design and video production, assisting with conferences and events, conducting research (online and offline), writing reports and strategic PR proposals, contributing to creative brainstorming meetings etc.

We usually recommend the host draws up a timetable of activities for the student.  However we leave this up to you, as we appreciate the need for a flexible and adaptable approach.  We are more than happy to discuss a suitable programme of activities if deemed appropriate. It may be, for example, that you need an extra pair of hands at trainee level to undertake a range of activities, while staff are on annual leave or you may have a particular project for the student to work on.

We ask you to clarify issues of confidentiality, dress code, working hours, sickness procedures, policy on use of social media etc with the student in advance of them joining you, either during a meeting or via e-mail or letter. If the placement is office-based, we expect the student to be allocated their own dedicated workspace within the organisation to allow them some degree of integration.

Point of Contact

It is important for the students to have a key contact or host supervisor for the duration of the placement – someone to act as a mentor, discuss issues or concerns and discuss workloads and responsibilities.

Ideally a meeting should take place between this key contact and student before or at the beginning of the placement to discuss and agree objectives and put in place a programme of activities to achieve this. Any problems with the student on placement, which cannot be resolved by the host supervisor, should be referred, as soon as possible, to the Placement Coordinator, QMU (see below for contact details).

Financial Arrangement

No payment is expected from the host during the placement, although we urge hosts to pay reasonable expenses to students on unpaid placements that are a core programme requirement. Meeting the costs of attending a placement can place a considerable financial burden on students and expenses are always welcome and appreciated. 

If the host and student agree to further work in addition to the 150 hours, students should be remunerated for the extra time. This arrangement is independent of QMU and payment should be in line with government and professional requirements.

Insurance of Students on Placement

Students on placement are fully covered by QMU’s liability insurance. If there is an extension to the 150 hours negotiated with the student then they need to be included on the host’s insurance policy.

Health & Safety

Students on placement will be expected to adhere to the host organisation’s health and safety procedures.


Once you have agreed to host a student, the student completes a form and sends it to our Pre-placement Support Officer, Xanthe Duncan. Xanthe will then contact you and ask you to complete a placement indemnity form which you then return to in advance of the student starting the placement with your organisation.

Role of the University 

The Professional Communications Placement Co-ordinator, Ann Turner, is responsible for the overall management of the placement programme (see below for contact details).

QMU Placement Administrator, is responsible for all the administrative detail (see below for contact details).

Role of the Student

A briefing session is held to help prepare students for placement. The importance of punctuality, attentiveness and willingness to help is stressed and they are given clear instructions on what is expected of them during the placement. They are encouraged to take the opportunity to gain experience, refine skills, make a good impression and enjoy their placement.

Skills Offered by PR Students

Our students have much to offer the host organisation in terms of skills and competencies. They have experience of media relations and producing materials for legacy and on-line media. They are able to create and curate content for a range of social media platforms. They understand the importance of targeting their communication to different stakeholders or audiences and have experience of using a media database, PR Max, to help draw up media distribution lists. They have gained the basics of photography and video production and used editing software. They have an appreciation of the media, marketing, events and PR industries and their role in society.  They are able to conduct qualitative and quantitative research and have experience of developing PR and marketing strategies in response to a client brief. They have a grounding in website design and using a content management system and they have some knowledge of analytics and metrics to measure the effectiveness of communication. 

Students joining the programme direct into Years 2 and 3 from FE colleges will have undertaken equivalent study through an HNC/HND in Public Relations and Advertising, Marketing or Media and Communications. 

In summary, our students should be able to:

  • create content for a range of on-line and traditional platforms
  • establish a social media presence online
  • assist with organising events such as photocalls and press conferences 
  • create and administer surveys, help with focus groups
  • design basic promotional material and web pages
  • help prepare campaign proposals
  • use several word processing packages, e-mail, use the internet for research purposes
  • update and maintain press cuttings digests
  • use databases like PR Max  to draw up press distribution lists
  • use analytics to gain insights and measure the effectiveness of a communication or marketing campaign
  • input into creative brainstorming sessions

In terms of practical computing skills all students are familiar with word processing, spreadsheet and database applications. All students at the University use e-mail and the internet. Some students have developed skills in certain applications such as DTP, statistical packages such as SPSS and video editing.

The placement host is encouraged to make the most of the skills the placement student brings to the organisation and help the student to develop them further in a work setting.

Student Assessment 

Students complete an assessment around their placement. They will keep a diary recording their learning and are required to reflect on their time in the workplace and the learner journey through the course. This reflection is only viewed by the tutor. In addition they will produce an e-portfolio on Canva Pro suitable for a job interview. This will illustrate a range of skills appropriate to their degree programme and illustrate their professional competencies. Students must seek clearance from hosts to take copies of any work undertaken when on placement for use in their portfolio. Hosts should be clear with students about any material that is competitor sensitive or confidential. 

Contacts for Further Information

Ann Turner

Professional Communications Placement Coordinator


Xanthe Duncan

Pre-Placement Support Officer