Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
December 7, 2009

Accreditation (APR) Travels With You

My husband is active-duty Air Force and our commitment to our country means we move often. This means I have to find a new network every three to five years. I knew that the APR would travel with me and provide some credibility to potential employers. I have more than eight years of experience in PR starting in the Air Force as a public affairs officer and followed by work in finance and education.

The challenge for me was distance. I live two hours away from a PRSA Chapter, but have attended meetings. Our Chapter provided group study sessions … which I could not attend. So, I ended up giving it a go on my own. I think that was a mistake and would like to encourage you to find a group to study with!

Scared. I was scared throughout the process— scared of failure and ridicule. However, I knew I needed to try. I reached out to colleagues and reviewed their portfolios, took a few to lunch and relied on their advice on where to focus.

Time out. I took three days off to study for the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations.  Reading all the books in the world was never going to help me. Talking through application of Sarbanes-Oxley, copyrights and working through strategic planning are the best tools to making it. The Examination is application-based and you need to be able to put the knowledge into scenarios and apply it, not regurgitate facts of history.

Not scared. In the end I found myself screaming out loud in joy when the preliminary results said I passed. It was a leap I would gladly do again. And I recommend the APR process wholeheartedly. I hope it will help me to continue to progress in my career as we embark on our next move.

By Tawny Dotson, APR, owner, t.Public Relations. Connect with Tawny on LinkedIn and Twitter @tawnydotson.

To learn more about Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), visit

  • tdotson

    It is amazing how difficult moving regularly can be on a career based on networking. I’m blessed to be able to make new friends and colleagues easily, but I rely on my education and accreditation to speak to those who have not worked with me in the past. I truly hope anyone considering the APR process will give it a try. You can do it! Work with a group to do it together and it will be worth it! Scholarships are available to offset costs in many chapters too!

  • Heather Smith

    Thanks Tawny! I loved your post! Great for an APR hopeful like me!

  • Barbara Burfeind, APR (2009 PRSA-NCC President)

    Tawny – kudos to you – both for attaining your APR and for discovering the value of accreditation when you move so often. I was active duty Navy when I went through the APR process. Every person has their own personal story and struggles, yet each found a way to make it happen. I hope your story encourages more members to take that first step and go for it! Congratulations!

  • Molly Helm

    Cheers to you for attaining your APR despite the challenges you face. What a great reminder to the those of us who do not move around to actively welcome new friends and professionals into our networks. The “rut” can become rather comfortable and we don’t even notice we are there…

  • Carol Hartzog

    Tawny has done some work for my company. Her APR placed her high up on my resource list. And the best recommendation is “She’s a keeper” from the client — my customer who pays for the work, which is the best recommendation a person can have.