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Some people earn their APR to impress their boss — or the boss they want to have. I did it to impress my students — to encourage them to be the public relations professionals I want them to be.
I have taught public relations full time since 2007. An APR after my name, I believed, would allow me to speak more authoritatively to students about their need to keep exercising their minds long after they walk across the stage at graduation.
But first I had to go back to school myself. I attended a daylong APR preparation course offered by my local Chapter. I took the online practice examination. I drafted and redrafted my Readiness Review questionnaire before submitting it. For my two-hour Readiness Review, I created a bound book and multimedia PowerPoint presentation in which I carefully noted each phase of my “campaign for the future of public relations” via my Communication Campaigns capstone course. I didn’t feign perfection though: I included slides showing my response to problems. For example, when my students lacked proper respect for history, I showcased relationships: Ed Bernays’ Ivory Soap carving and Redbull’s Art of Can contests, and security campaigns in World War II and at Amazon.com. To conclude, I anticipated questions from panelists and had a slide after my “final slide” with answers.
But the real work toward my APR began once I got the letter permitting me to take the computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations. I bought yellow highlighters, took a few days off work and huddled over a printout of the APR Study Guide.
I arrived early to the testing center. My hand shook as I clicked through the tutorial. As questions flashed by, I reflected on the preparation session, Readiness Review and studying. They all came together — I passed! When I received official documentation, my department chairman publicly congratulated me, as did many students.
Now, when I talk about lifelong learning in public relations, students often nod and ask, “You did that by getting your APR, right?”
“That’s part of it,” I answer. “There’s going to PRSA meetings, there’s keeping current via PR news sources. But, yes, the APR should be a goal because it tells the world I can do it.”
“I want to do it, too,” my students say. Inspiring that yearning, that appreciation for knowledge continuing outside that classroom — that’s why I earned my APR, and I’m so glad I did.
Robin Rothberg, APR, is a full-time lecturer in public relations at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her work in public relations and journalism has been local, national and international in scope, but she considers herself most fortunate to have fused her public relations and journalism passions early in her career as a reporter at PRWeek in the early 2000s.