ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
April 25, 2012

Those Three Golden Letters — Finally!


April is Accreditation month at PRSA!

PRSA has designated April as Accreditation Month. Members can learn more about APR through many special events, including:

My boss has been (thankfully) pestering me for three years to get my APR. But with growing workplace responsibilities and three sons to chase, who has time to prepare for “the unknown monster” of APR preparation?

So after faithfully placing “Accreditation in Public Relations” on my performance review goals for three years — and explaining it away every year — I had to make it happen in 2011–2012.

After applying and receiving my acceptance, the one-year clock kept ticking until I finally dug into the great resources on the PRSA website that broke it all down into three manageable chunks (Tip #1) — Readiness Review questionnaire, the presentation/portfolio and computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations.

One of my first acts was to find a study partner — a local public relations professional who also was going through the process (Tip #2). We decided to meet weekly to discuss one chapter of the “Effective Public Relations” bible (Tip #3). Though we had to reschedule frequently, those weekly sessions were invaluable for keeping us on track — especially the tests on each chapter of the book.

I set deadlines for submitting my questionnaire and for my Readiness Review (we’re all better with deadlines, right?) (Tip #4), and put them on a big whiteboard to stare at me daily. The questionnaire took two to three hours to complete, the portfolio about twice that to gather research, examples, etc. (Neither one is as bad as you make them out to be.)

Focusing on a public relations plan that I already had completed for my company made the questionnaire, Readiness Review and portfolio easier to pull together (Tip #5). Now, it was one month until the Examination.

The PRSA website also provided great tools for preparing for the Examination, including a sample test and a breakdown of the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) on the Examination, and the weight given to each. Since the four-step process of Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation make up 30 percent of the Examination, that’s where my partner and I focused our last month of study (Tip #6).

The week before the Examination, I carved out time each night to review notes on the chapters we covered previously. Just like in high school, try to get a good night’s sleep before the Examination — it’s 187 questions and quite an endurance test. Best of all, I passed! And now those three big letters aren’t hanging over my head … they follow my name! Good luck!

Andy Williams, APR, is director, Corporate Communications, for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. He has been in the public relations field in some capacity since working as a sports writer out of college 25-plus years ago.

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