Before you embark on your APR journey, you must be determined to succeed! It took me almost 10 years in the public relations world before I felt ready to pursue my APR. I know that may sound odd to people considering there is no set amount of years required to go for your APR, but in my tenth year as a public relations pro is when I finally felt ready to go for those coveted three letters.
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The hard work is over — my professional portfolio is now gathering dust on a shelf alongside various study texts. The Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations is a memory that my conscious mind is working hard to repress. The certificate, suitable for framing, just arrived in the mail, and I still smile every time I sign something with the initials APR after my name.
As part of my 18-month APR journey (yes, I took the scenic route), I read every APR posting on this blog for advice and inspiration. Now it’s my turn. The following reflections break down the process and provide insights intended to help today’s candidates on the path:
The holiday season is famous for not only receiving gifts, but giving them as well. This year, my mind quickly goes to something that I was able to give to myself nearly 12 months ago as I unofficially “passed” my Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations on Dec. 5, 2012, and received the confirmation letter less than two weeks later.
There are those on both sides of the fence about earning an APR, with either “It adds value” or “It has no value.” A quick scan of the comments about this topic on PRSAY is a good illustration. While PRSA is currently looking at ways to enhance the perception and the reputation of the certification, at the end of the day, it’s about what you think it is.
This was a self-inflicted battle that I put myself through the past couple of years of “will I” or “won’t I” pursue the APR. Is it better/worse/worth my time compared to other certifications or even degrees? Will an APR really help me both now and later in my career journey? What if I start down the path of an APR, but don’t get it? Does that mean I should rethink my profession?
Finally, after taking the online practice test several times — spanned over the course of two years to gauge my improvement with knowledge of the profession — I decided to make it a goal to get it done by the end of 2012. The preparation read like a public relations version of the “The Twelve Days of Christmas”:
As the public relations and marketing manager of PKE Marketing & PR Solutions, I recently achieved my Accreditation in public relations, and since then many of my peers have been asking for advice about the APR process. I’ve been asked whether I think getting Accredited would benefit their careers, what my study methods were and tips I have for passing. I thought this blog would be the perfect place to share what worked for me.
I have been involved in PRSA since the student Society at San Diego State University — longer ago than I care to mention. I began volunteering for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter in some capacity the summer after I graduated, and have been on the board of the Chapter since 2008.
For years, APRs on our board would rant and rave about the Accreditation process. I never thought it pertained to me, and did not think it would be useful. I knew what I was doing! I knew public relations! I did not need a lapel pin and some initials after my name to prove I knew my stuff! I was far too busy trying to establish my professional reputation to have time for some certification process! For years, I balked at the program and my colleagues’ insistence on Accreditation.
However, as I advanced in my career I began realizing perhaps there was, in fact, more I could learn to take my career to the next level. I was in an organization with limited advancement opportunities, but I was hungry for more. I became dissatisfied professionally as I tried to figure out what my next steps would be. Then one day, one of my colleagues talked about the APR, and something in me clicked. Years of colleagues’ passionately advocating for the APR finally made sense, and I knew this was just what I needed to do.
I completed the application, the Readiness Review Questionnaire, put together my portfolio and prepared for the Readiness Review. Immediately after I was Advanced through the Readiness Review, I began studying for the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations. I was fortunate enough to have attended San Diego State University, and studied with one of the authors of “Effective Public Relations,” Dr. Glen Broom. I was going to nail this thing!
As soon as I started making plans, life happened.
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