It seems that most people only talk publicly about earning their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) after they’ve received the official certificate in the mail. Their encouragement is valuable, but like a “runner’s high,” the feeling you get at the end of the race
can make you completely forget the months of training and challenges you endured on the way to the finish line.
I’m currently in the training phase of my APR journey, and I don’t want to wait to share my experience. I’ve registered for the race, paid my entry fees and am spending time each day preparing for the Readiness Review and the examination.
The following are five lessons I’ve learned so far in training for the APR …
- Preparing for Accreditation is hard work. While this might seem to go without saying, you’d be surprised. Responding to the Readiness Review Questionnaire and compiling a solid portfolio involves a lot of reflection and thought. This part of the process has helped me identify my strengths and, more importantly, the weaknesses I need to address as I prepare for both the Readiness Review and examination. Just like training for a race, I’m sure the time and energy I’ve invested in preparation directly impacts how well I’ll perform on the big day.
- I’ve grown a LOT in the process. The APR process is so much more than demonstrating knowledge, skills and abilities. Studying communications models and theories, reading case studies and reviewing best practices is giving me a fresh perspective on my day-to-day client activities. Combining academic learning with practical experience has taken my critical and strategic thinking to a level I didn’t anticipate.
- A great support system is invaluable. It helps to have supportive people by your side, whether they’re working toward the same goal or they’re cheering for you on from the sidelines. Since I started the APR process, my network has grown exponentially. I’m on the board of the PRSA Dallas Chapter and have been an active member for several years, but this experience has helped me connect with other professionals on a whole new level. Several Accredited pros have offered their
support and insight, and I’m building relationships with others going through the process with me. I know they will hold me accountable and help me make it across the finish line.
- PRSA provides a wealth of free resources. From the APR Study Guide and free webinars, to courses at conferences and support from my local chapter, I have everything I need to be successful. My chapter’s APR chair has even provided a schedule to help me complete the process by April 30, 2015. Like the running plans I use to prepare for future races, I know that if I follow the schedule, I will be ready on race day.
- The real value comes from the journey. The medal you earn at the end of the race is merely a symbol of an even greater accomplishment. I admit that I’ve been dreaming of the day when I can update all of my collateral with those three little letters that carry so much weight. Now that I’ve started the journey, I can see that the real value is in all the work I’m doing to earn my Accreditation, and I’m going to make every second count.
For those of you out there who are thinking about pursuing your APR, I welcome you to join me in my journey. I have a lot more work to do before I cross the finish line, but I’ll be sure to share updates of my mile markers along the way. Stay tuned…
Christi Chesner is director of account service for Lewis Public Relations in Dallas. She provides leadership in research, media relations, strategic planning and content development for brands like ALON/7-Eleven and EMerge Alliance. She also serves as secretary for PRSA Dallas. You can follower Christi on Twitter at @ChristiChesner.