The Accreditation process was a mid-career boost of adrenaline — challenging and exciting, yet difficult and trying. I tested my knowledge and understanding of public relations and learned more about the history and evolution of the craft. Although the process seemed overwhelming at first, the PRSA Georgia Chapter APR Accreditation team divided it into manageable parts and I completed the program within a year.
In the spring I finished the Readiness Review Questionnaire, which challenged me to analyze my firm, my professional experience and the state of the industry.
Next, I scheduled my Readiness Review for June and prepared to present a media relations campaign and corresponding event plan that I had executed for a consumer client. The Review was approximately two hours in length but required dozens more in research and preparation. My panelists provided a fresh appreciation of the campaign I presented and positive feedback on my career highlights and accomplishments. Ultimately, they gave me the green light to proceed and confidence to continue on to the computer-based portion of the process.
I spent winter evenings by the fire with the APR Study Guide, my flash cards and a copy of “Effective Public Relations.” Then, I took the computer-based Examination in February. After four hours at the Prometric testing center, I received the unofficial pass and, finally, the “thrill of victory.”
Undertaking this process required me to reflect on my career accomplishments and review, rediscover and refine the specific campaign that I presented to my Readiness Review panel. It opened my eyes as I learned more about the theories and methodologies of public relations, and began to adjust the way in which I practice.
Additionally, I felt tremendous support from my colleagues. The PRSA Georgia Chapter APR team, my “classmates,” Review panelists, and co-workers provided encouragement and guidance. My family provided inspiration and support at home. Overall, it was a positive experience that I’d recommend to colleagues. In fact, I have some flash cards that I’d happily loan out.
Stephanie Q. Fitzsimmons, APR, has more than two decades of public relations experience and been a senior account leader at Jackson Spalding since 1999. She serves as strategic counselor to some of the firm’s top consumer clients, including Delta Air Lines and Purchasing Power. Fitzsimmons earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Iowa State University.