Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
April 16, 2010

From Skilled Tactician to Strategic Counselor: My Metamorphosis

My decision to earn Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) coincided with my decision to start a solo public relations practice. This was ideal, since each stage of the APR process helped me think more strategically about my own business and helped me acquire the business acumen to ensure success.

The Candidate Readiness Review Questionnaire was a productive, introspective process. It enabled me to capitalize on my strengths and correct my weaknesses. It also helped me become more productive and responsive to current social and communications trends.

For example, I expected that my two decades of newspaper experience, coupled with my master’s in journalism, would give me a leg up on media relations. But, I soon learned media relations skills are just a fraction of those required to be a successful public relations professional.

I also thought the project management and collaborative skills I honed during five years of developing health and medical marketing communications would help me deliver essential communications planning skills to clients. But I learned this would probably lead to short-term project work.

I longed to do more than compose press releases, develop newsletters and create content. I wanted to actually partner with clients to help them solve problems. Thanks to the multifaceted Accreditation process, I now know how to utilize research to develop and carry out effective, results-driven strategic plans.

My Readiness Review presentation was also a great learning experience. Panel members provided a valuable critique of my communications plan, asked probing questions and offered thoughtful suggestions for improvement.

The computer-based Examination was harder than I expected so I’m glad I used multiple study resources. These included: the online Study Guide, my local PRSA Chapter’s APR preparation program, the recommended textbooks and the Online Study Course. Since I knew the Examination was scenario-based, I also read case studies and downloaded abstracts of several Silver Anvil winners from the resource section of the PRSA Web site.

Achieving my APR was challenging and required a serious time commitment, but the transformative process is one of the best things I’ve done for myself professionally. I’m extremely proud of my accomplishment.

Beverly M. Payton, M.A., APR, founder, Payton Communications, provides public relations counseling, editorial services and marketing communications to clients in the nonprofit and health care sectors. Connect with Beverly on LinkedIn and on Twitter @bevpayton.

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

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