PRSA has designated April as Accreditation Month. Members can learn more about APR through many special events, including:
- On Demand Webinars: Getting Ready for the Readiness Review, Getting Ready for the APR Computer-Based Examination, Accreditation Power Play
- Using the “Invite-a-Peer” tool to help spread the word about APR
- 50th Anniversary of APR Historical Milestones in Accreditation
- White Paper: Accreditation in Public Relations
I followed the road map prescribed on the PRSA website for the three-part process of the application and questionnaire, Readiness Review and the computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations. Before I began my journey, I selected some tools to organize my course, including Evernote to keep my notes, the APR Study Guide PDF, etc. I also utilized the Brainscape app and made flash cards to study for the Examination.
The journey for me took one year, with the most intensive time devoted during the last three months that included preparing for the Readiness Review, assembling my portfolio, designing my low-tech presentation for the Readiness Review board, reading and studying “Effective Public Relations”and the study guide. I did not attend the APR Boot Camp, although it was highly recommended by our APR chair. I did not take the practice test following the advice of a former APR chair. Mostly, I studied the Brainscape flash cards over and over again.
During my journey, I focused on the most frequently traveled subjects that were going to be on the Examination, including the Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation (RPIE), ethics and law and communication models and theories, while still visiting business literacy, management skills and issues, crisis communication management, media relations and the remaining subjects. While I highlighted my experiences in the portfolio and presentation to the Readiness Review panel, I stuck to the principles during my study for the Examination.
The final day of my journey included eating a power breakfast, allowing enough travel time to the examination center, packing the required essentials, and mentally focusing on visualizing the emotion once the immediate results of passing were communicated from the computer. It happened. After nervously submitting the Examination after rechecking the questions I had flagged, I received the good news that I had passed. The feelings that I imagined trumped what I envisioned.
It was a great sense of accomplishment to successfully end the journey. I anxiously awaited the official results and resisted telling friends and family, updating my new name with three letters following on social media applications such as LinkedIn until I received that official letter and certificate. It is a journey that I highly recommend, and treasure the experience and accomplishment on becoming Accredited in the profession that I am so passionate about.
Scott E. Toncray, APR, owns ToncrayPRess, a public relations firm located in Franklin, Tenn. He is an active public affairs volunteer with the American Red Cross and has extensive training in crisis communications.