Last July, I received my APR pin from the PRSA National Capital Chapter. When fellow PRSAers ask how the Accreditation process went for me, I wish I could answer with a brief recap of how everything fell into place, just as I had envisioned. That was certainly not the case. In the end, however, I can say that the process was worthwhile and rewarding. Perhaps my story can be encouraging for those whose Accreditation doesn’t quite go as planned …
APR: Accredited in Public Relations's archives
I remember what crossed my mind the first time I heard about the APR process and I shook my head thinking, “Who has that kind of time?” I was about to embark on a massive public relations campaign at work and my experience from past projects told me I’d barely have time to do much else.
Although I knew the benefits were obvious: An accredited public relations professional holds significantly higher weight in a world full of self-proclaimed public relations people. Fundamentally, the certification represents separating the best from the rest. All companies only want to hire and retain the best, and so it was an easy sell to the C-suite.
However, even after I achieved approval to proceed, I hesitated. In many cases, journalists, colleagues and the C-suite do not understand our world at all. I never had formal public relations training, so naturally I had self-doubt. What if I really don’t know what I’m doing? What if I don’t pass the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations? We can’t always produce neat and tidy Excel spreadsheets in communications. Some people think I post everything I eat on Twitter or that I get to go do all the “fun” stuff because they only see the end result of strategic effort or a tactic in the vast arsenal of public relations tools.
The other night I found myself in a nontraditional lawn mowing situation. I have a riding lawn mower and my son, who is now six years old, has enjoyed mowing with me since he was three. However, this time was different because he mustered up the courage to ask me, “Why don’t you ever let me drive?” I knew the answer, but how does one tell an impressionable child that his way of doing something isn’t exactly the routine way of accomplishing a task?
Since graduating college and entering the public relations industry in 2008, obtaining my APR had been a career objective. As I approached my fifth year post graduation, the decision to go for the APR made sense. I figured it would be a great way to fine tune my public relations skills and demonstrate that I had the necessary knowledge and competencies to handle any type of public relations challenge to my industry peers, as well as my current and future employers.
Since earning the APR designation, several of my colleagues have been inspired to start their own APR process. While some jump right in, others share very valid concerns that stop them — whether they don’t have enough time to study or they’ve started, but found the Readiness Review process overwhelming. At one time or another during my own study, I experienced these same obstacles, so I’ve crafted my top 10 tips (or bits of insight, rather) to provide clarification on the front end that can help candidates navigate the Accreditation journey.
Earning my APR has been a very important and rewarding professional achievement for me, and I really look forward to seeing others achieve this impressive credential. Let’s get started!
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