ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
May 16, 2012

APR: Enhancing Your Role as a Trusted Communications Counselor


Participate in PRSA’s online training session, “Getting Ready for the APR Computer-Based Examination,” on June 12, 2012 3–4 p.m. EDT . This public relations accreditation training sesssion is free to PRSA members.

Pursuing the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) designation is a decision that has been extremely valuable to my career. Public relations is a profession that is evolving every year but the core of all we do is still based on research and ethical communication practices. The APR helped elevate my role as communications counsel, provoking me to think beyond one-sided scenarios and come up with results-oriented solutions for my clients.

Thinking back on my year-long APR pursuit, below are six tips that helped me prepare for the Readiness Review and the scenario-based exam.

  1. Set a goal date and work backwards from that date. Determine how much time you can realistically dedicate to preparing for the Readiness Review and the exam. I recommend at least three months for each (2-3 times a week).
  2. Local Chapter Support: Find out if your local Chapter will offer an APR cohort group or course. I found the weekly face-to-face discussions with colleagues about the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) tested in the Accreditation process, to be very helpful.
  3. Study Guide: The APR Study Guide is a great resource designed by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) that provides an overview of each KSA. Caution: Don’t study the guide alone. Supplement the topics with the short bookshelf readings, take notes and complete the case studies at the end of the study guide.
  4. Don’t Memorize: The APR exam is not an exam where you simply memorize key terms, since a good part of the test is about real-world public relations scenarios. You need to identify the KSAs for different scenarios and know how to apply them. When I was taking notes during the readings, I would include examples from my work experience on how I have already applied the concepts.
  5. Walk through the KSAs when preparing your readiness review presentation. Make sure the campaign you choose to present touches on most of the KSAs. You want to understand all the concepts and showcase how you’ve applied them when presenting to the panel.
  6. Online Study Course: The APR online study course was most helpful to me. Participating in the cohort sessions and writing scenario-based questions for each KSA kept me focused.

Like our work in the field, leveraging our resources and dedicating time to the task at hand is key to a campaign’s success. The same applies to advancing in the Readiness Review and passing the APR exam. Are you ready for the challenge?

Nathalie Santa Maria, APR, is a senior account executive at Fusion Communications, a boutique public relations company incorporating the communications marketing mix (social media, word of mouth, media relations, research, media training, corporate social responsibility, crisis communications, and copywriting) into all of its public relations efforts and strategic plans implemented across Central and Latin America, and the Caribbean. Santa Maria also is an active member of PRSA’s Miami Chapter.  Follow her on Twitter at @nathaliesm_pr.

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