I recently earned my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). As a working mother with two young children, this was no small task. However, despite the extensive amount of work involved to earn the APR, I strongly believe this credential is a spectacular way to build on your foundation as a public relations practitioner and grow professionally.
The APR transformed my way of thinking. I wanted to embrace the challenge of being a better communications practitioner, and it helped to reaffirm the importance of following the four-step process. At Martin Waymire, we’ve always followed the four-step process, but earning my APR helped drive home the importance of why following that process matters. Our “RACE” approach (Research, Action Plan, Communication and Evaluation) to public relations campaign management uses strategies and tactics to help our clients move the needle. I have a broader and deeper understanding of the importance of using research to define the problem, knowing how to develop an action plan and how to implement and evaluate that plan to measure its effectiveness.
You can complete the accreditation process in three steps by coordinating with your local PRSA chapter’s accreditation chair:
- Complete the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations Application
- Prepare for the Readiness Review
- Complete the computer-based examination
The list above makes the process seem relatively seamless, but earning your APR requires a lot of work and preparation. In order to earn your accreditation, you need to be a public relations practitioner for at least five years and there’s a cost, too. You can learn more here.
Here are a few important takeaways from earning my APR:
- Make this study guide your bible. There are other reading materials that can supplement your studies, but this guide has everything you need to prepare you for the Readiness Review and computer exam.
- Look to your local chapter for resources! The CMPRSA Accreditation Chair coordinated group study sessions, mentoring opportunities and advice from other local APRs and more.
- Find a study buddy. It’s a great opportunity to practice your Readiness Review presentation and to receive constructive criticism on areas for improvement.
- Ask current APRs for advice on studying, how to prepare for the Readiness Review and any recommendations they can offer.
- Join a boot camp that coordinates the Readiness Review, organizes several days of group study sessions and schedules the computer examination for participants. I attended a boot camp in East Lansing and we had participants from Texas and Maryland join us. This is a great way for people with busy schedules to work in tandem to earn their accreditation.
- Make sure you have the bandwidth to tackle a herculean task. I spent six months studying, preparing and working toward my APR. The first three months were more familiarizing myself with the process, materials and study guide, but the last three months were an overwhelming flurry of studying, preparing, practicing and planning. If you’re going through a major life change or transition (moving, having a child, switching jobs, etc.), then wait until you’re ready.
The APR elevates the public relations profession by setting standards for our industry by identifying standards in work, the importance of ethics and using proven methods to formulate a winning strategy. Earning your accreditation is an intense process that is absolutely worth the results.