I came out of newspapers like a lot of folks my age who end up in public relations. Although I attended the best journalism school in the world, the University of Missouri, I didn’t know anything about planning, budgeting and evaluating.
My strength as a communicator for the colleges and social service organizations I worked for was in media relations.
But that was a small part of my responsibilities. Increasingly, I was called upon to develop a big-picture approach to help organizations realize their missions. That meant a lot of on-the-job training and mistakes.
All along, at Chapter and national PRSA and Religion Communicators Council meetings and conferences, I kept hearing the drumbeat — APR, APR.
But I had been out of school for decades! Could I do it?
After an unexpected job change and confronting challenges facing older workers, I decided the APR might help my marketability.
I signed up for the online class where I participated in several cohort groups. Despite the advice of APRs who presented, I didn’t set aside a certain amount of time to study each week. My approach was sporadic. I kept plodding along.
After confiding my concerns to friend and fellow PRSA and RCC member Douglas Cannon, APR+M, I decided to commit. I sent off the application for the APR, which started the one-year clock.
I attended an APR Boot Camp and presented my portfolio to a tough but caring group of professionals and was Advanced through the Readiness Review. Unlike others in the APR Boot Camp, I put off taking the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations to study more.
I planned to take the Examination in January 2014, but my husband had a serious car accident. In the midst of that crisis, the clock was winding down on the APR.
In March 2014, I went to the Prometric Center, hoping that if I didn’t pass I could schedule a retest before time ran out. I passed on the first try!
I don’t suggest others follow my path, but the journey was worth it. I am a better public relations professional, and I’ve earned and learned more than letters after my name.
Katherine Kerr, APR, is a recovering journalist with more than 25 years of higher education and nonprofit public relations experience. She and her husband, Tim Kubatzky, CFRE, have recently launched a consulting company, Polaris Non-Profit Solutions, LLC, to provide public relations and fundraising counsel to help nonprofits achieve mission success.