As a self-proclaimed “old-school” public relations strategist for more than 13 years, I found myself becoming concerned that the integrity, credibility and prestige of the communications field might be waning. Without a way to measure expertise, how could true strategists separate ourselves in the field?
I was thrilled to discover that the Accreditation in Public Relations exists. It legitimizes our profession and builds accountability. At first glance, it seems a daunting task. And make no mistake, from the questionnaire to the Readiness Review to the computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations, it takes commitment, dedication and time … lots of time.
But once I began, it was stimulating to delve deeply into the theories and methods we use every day. Frankly, it renewed my passion and excitement for communications strategies. I was excited to realize that I use RPIE — research, planning, implementation and evaluation — habitually in my practice and that the core competencies lead my decision making. Plus, I learned new concepts that have made me a better professional and enabled me to perform my job at a higher level.
My best advice is: There is no time like the present. Sure, studying for the APR is time-consuming. The process can at times be overwhelming. And it is intimidating to think about what you might not remember — or even worse — not know. But in the end, it is absolutely worth pushing past these and other negative thoughts.
Hindsight is 20/20, so take advantage of what I learned:
- Get buy-in from your employer — it’s important to have support from your leadership.
- Attend a jump-start — or attend two. The insight you’ll gain is immeasurable.
- Pay attention to the questionnaire, but don’t get too caught up in the details. Answer to the best of your ability so the reviewers understand who you are.
- Practice for the Readiness Review, and be prepared to explain your decision-making process, not just the plan.
- Study for the computer-based Examination. You will be asked situational questions and will benefit from reading the study guide and recommended texts.
Attaining the APR is one of my greatest achievements. I am proud I stepped out of my comfort zone and took the challenge. But somewhat to my surprise, the process and the journey were as thrilling and beneficial as the Accreditation itself.
Jodi Omear, M.A., APR, is the director of communications at the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C., where she serves as the chief communications strategist for the nation’s governors. Prior to joining NGA, she served as the press secretary and spokeswoman for West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise. Omear received her master’s degree in political management from The George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree from West Liberty University.