I was working in San Francisco several years ago when a colleague mentioned that he was working toward his APR. I was impressed — and depressed. Impressed by his hard work and initiative; depressed because I felt that Accreditation was so far beyond my reach.
In college, I majored in television-radio with an emphasis on broadcast journalism. My studies didn’t include the knowledge that is critical for public relations professionals today — research, evaluation and communication models. For years, I believed that educational gap was too wide for me to be successful in seeking Accreditation.
Two events changed that. One was a lunch with the PRSA-Portland Chapter president — and APR — Tom Unger. His kind encouragement provided the first gentle push. The second was an e-mail from the Portland Chapter announcing a free series of workshops designed, as they put it, “to help you pass the Readiness Review.”
The class was taught by four superb professionals: Patti Atkins, APR; Amy Gaskill, APR; Chuck Williams, APR; and Mara Woloshin, APR, Fellow PRSA. They did an outstanding job of guiding us through the process and telling us what would be expected each step of the way. Most of all, they made me believe that I could be successful.
So, one step at a time, I kept moving forward: first, the application form; then, Readiness Review; and finally, the computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations. On August 15, I received my APR certificate — seven months after I nervously attended that first class. The response from PRSA, my colleagues, friends and family has been overwhelming. It is deeply gratifying to know that they share my pride.
PRSA-Portland deserves enormous credit for encouraging their members to pursue Accreditation. I don’t believe that I would have been successful without their expertise and support. I worked hard to justify their faith, and I hope to thank them by “paying it forward.”
This message is my first step. But, as I have been reminded this year, the most rewarding journeys stem from a belief that you can be successful, and by moving forward one step at a time.
Barbara R. Kerr, APR, is executive director of Communications and Marketing at Clark College in Vancouver, Wash. She has been a television news director, anchor and reporter, and has served as a media and public relations adviser for government, business, public and nonprofit organizations across the United States, and internationally in Bulgaria, Hong Kong and the Philippines.